News from the National Executive Director, May 2016
America is facing a heroin and opiate crisis. Heroin is increasingly popular – a report by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration indicates that first-time heroin users doubled between 2006 and 2013 and data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicate that deadly heroin overdoses increased sixfold in the years between 2001 and 2014. More than ever before, this crisis is addressed as a public health issue more than as a public safety or criminal justice issue. This shift has sparked much public debate about why this is the case. Have we finally reached a tipping point as a society in our views of addiction as a health concern? Have irresponsible pain management prescription practices contributed to opening our eyes to one of the epidemic’s root causes? Some argue that race is a critical part of the story and feel that the shifting demographic – with an apparent increase in the proportion of white heroin and opiate users – is what has changed the perception of heroin abuse and finally mobilized policy makers. In this month’s Reclaiming Futures newsletter, we focused our attention on the issues surrounding the opiate crisis and featured a new blog post by Reclaiming Futures Program and Policy Analyst Bridget Murphy.