What’s Fueling the Current Opioid Epidemic?

17:33 minutes

Opioids, via Shutterstock
Opioids, via Shutterstock

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 80 people die each day from overdosing on opioids, which include heroin and prescription pain pills. At least half of those case are attributed to prescription pain pills. The 21st Century Cures Act, which recently passed the House and Senate, included $1 billion for states and $500 million of federal funding to be allocated for treatment and prevention of opioid abuse. This week, Ohio passed an opiate addiction initiative, which includes a provision that would require pharmacy techs to register and undergo background checks.

Huntington, West Virginia, has been one of the hardest-hit cities. In one day in August, the city saw 26 overdoses in less than six hours. Michael Kilkenny, the physician director at Cabell-Huntington Health Department Huntington, West Virginia, talks about how the city is tackling the epidemic.

And Andrew Kolodny, co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University, discusses how these new laws could stem the flow of prescription meds fueling the epidemic, and how synthetic opioids are complicating, the situation.

Segment Guests

Andrew Kolodny

Andrew Kolodny is co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Michael Kilkenny

Michael Kilkenny is Physician Director for the Cabell-Huntington Health Department in 
Huntington, West Virginia.

Meet the Producer

About Alexa Lim

Alexa Lim was a senior producer for Science Friday. Her favorite stories involve space, sound, and strange animal discoveries.