Local doctors discuss opioid epidemic and what should be done about it

November 17, 2017 by Elizabeth

Peter A. Netland, MD, PhD

“They’re not very different from heroin in their chemical makeup. When we look at some of the ADHD medications, they’re not that different from methamphetamine. So, what it means is that we need to understand that none of these are risk free, and that they need to be careful,” said Christopher Ruhm, a professor at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia.

Experts say that in 2015, more than 800 Virginians died from opioid overdose. “More people died last year as a result of drug overdoses than traffic fatalities, and that is a medical health emergency,” said Robert Tracci, the Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney. He says that he hopes to work with Albemarle County police officers in the future to tackle the problem more effectively, as well as prevent it from spreading.

The speakers at Thursday’s event say there isn’t a current solution but having more discussions on the issue will lead to better results. “How do we find the right balance in using these drugs? There may not be an answer, but that’s what we are going to deal with tonight,” said Netland.

According to research presented by the speakers, the overdose rate of opioids increased from six to 10 people per 100,000 Virginia residents since 2010. Tracci recently penned an article about the opioid problem in the Washington Times. Governor Terry McAuliffe also spoke about the opioid problem in his State of the Commonwealth Address on Wednesday. The article and the transcript are in the Related Links and Related Stories boxes.

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