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Our View: We are not powerless to opioid epidemic

These days, there are efforts from across the nation to fight our country opioid epidemic.

It can often feel like we are powerless against this metaphorical monster, creeping into our communities and eating away at our friends, family and loved ones.

However, a recent report shows the many efforts to battle the epidemic may be paying off, if even slightly.

According to Kentucky Health News, national and state reports showed the number of deaths related to opioids might be at a plateau.

KHN’s Melissa Patrick reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s preliminary data shows the 12 month period ending March 2018, the most recent data compiled, saw a decline of nearly 3 percent in the number of reported overdose deaths, to 68,690, when compared to the 12 month period ending November 2017, when the number of overdose deaths was at its highest ever, 70,780.

“The same CDC report shows an even greater drop in Kentucky of 9.2 percent,” Patrick reported. “In the 12-month period ending November 2017, Kentucky reported 1,594 overdose deaths — also its peak — and in the 12-month period ending in March of this year, it reported 1,446 deaths.

“A preliminary report from the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center also shows a drop in overdose deaths in Kentucky between the last quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018, with declines in deaths involving fentanyl and heroin, but not in the number of fatalities involving methamphetamine.

KIPRC’s provisional data shows between the fourth quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018 the total number of overdose deaths dropped from 366 to 344; heroin-related OD deaths dropped from 57 to 44; fentanyl-involved OD deaths dropped from 187 to 180, and ODs involving methamphetamine increased from 79 to 82, Patrick reported.

While these bits of good news are hopeful, they are no reason to celebrate a victory over this disease just yet.

The good news is some of the steps many groups — from the government to schools, churches, community groups, families, rehabilitation groups, detention centers, the courts and more — are working.

We need to look at those things that are working and continue to mold and shape programs that will be even more beneficial.

This monster, this epidemic, is one we believe can be stopped.

Will we ever see the complete end of drug use in our country?

Probably not.

But we think there is a future where it does not plague our nation as it does now and a time when people who fall victim to drugs will find the necessary resources to recover.

This new data is proof there are things we can do.

We are not powerless to this epidemic.