California programs are waiting weeks for free Narcan to prevent overdose deaths.
In 2014, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 200,000 people died from drug overdose.
The drugs involved were fentanyl, fentanyl analogs such as carfentanyl, and heroin.
The majority of those deaths were linked to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs.
According to SAMHSA, in February 2019, there were 27,959 overdose deaths in the U.S.
Most of those involved heroin and fentanyl-related drugs.
Just three months later, in April 2019, the number of overdose deaths was up to 31,012.
In September, it was up to 49,541, and in October, up to 63,865.
The rise began to be noticed by officials at the federal and state levels.
For example, in September, in an address to the National Academy of Sciences, SAMHSA’s interim chief of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) talked about the rise of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs as they affect the drug policy community in the U.S.
SAMHSA’s opioid prescribing guidelines are only advisory. They have not been updated since May 2017.
Instead, they’re a reflection of the latest scientific findings and the recommendations of the BJA and OJP, which work in tandem with SAMHSA.
According to the guidelines, prescribers of opioids can substitute one opioid for another if there are no contraindications.
“They’re safe,” said SAMHSA’s chief, Joseph Votel, during his September address to the National Academy of Sciences. “Some physicians have stopped prescribing, and we encourage them to do the same.”
But the guidelines don’t explicitly state that the opioid substitute is safe.
“There are many reasons to consider using alternative opioid analgesics in the treatment of pain in the setting of opioid misuse,” the guidelines state.
In December 2019, the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DE