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3 Priority Areas to Combat Opioid Abuse

The Secretary has identified three priority areas where HHS can focus efforts to have the most significant impact.

The opioid crisis has become a dark shadow over communities across this nation. Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States – more than even car crashes – because they have increased five-fold since 1980. Our intention is clear: to save lives by preventing the misuse and abuse of prescription opioids and heroin.

Earlier this week, Secretary Burwell joined HHS agency leaders, members of Congress, and partner organizations for the 4th annual National Rx Drug Abuse Summit in Atlanta, GA to discuss the opioid crisis.


In her speech, the Secretary identified three priority areas where HHS can focus efforts to have the most significant impact.

  1. Provide the training, tools and educational resources that health care professionals need to make more informed prescribing decisions.
  2. Increase the use of naloxone, a drug that can reverse opioid overdose.
  3. Use medication-assisted treatment to help lift people out of opioid addition.

All of this involves partnerships at all levels and across the country, as the Secretary noted.

“Opioid addiction is a serious challenge and it does not discriminate, but it’s also an area where those of us from the federal government, Congress, states and the private sector have a lot of common interests.”

The Secretary announced that with the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, and the Association for State and Territorial Health Officials, we will co-host a summit for all 50 states this summer. You can read her remarks in full here.

In addition to efforts being announced at the National Rx Drug Abuse Summit, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants you to get engaged in the conversation online. This week, the CDC launched When the Prescription Becomes the Problem (#RXProblem), to raise awareness about how the epidemic of prescription opioid abuse and overdose impacts the lives of Americans nationwide. We encourage you to share your personal story or message on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram by using six words to characterize your experience with pain management, prescription opioid overdose, death, addiction or recovery. Learn more about how you can get involved at

CDC’s Injury Center is also asking public, federal, state and community partners to participate in this social media activity by sharing their own messages of support and/or highlighting work that is helping reverse this epidemic. You can follow the conversation using #RXProblem.

When the prescription becomes the problem. #RXProblem. CDC.
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