California also proposes to tax prescription painkillers

Life today has become increasingly busy with conflicting demands on limited time. Hard-pressed and in a bid to balance and fulfill all commitments, people are becoming more and more stressed. Consequently, incidences of anxiety, depression, insomnia and other disorders are on the rise. People often resort to different ways in a bid to manage their feelings and symptoms. Some find escape in substances such as drugs or alcohol and some self-medicate, i.e., consume prescription drugs to get relief from all the stress and worry.

Though good for temporary relief, it carries the risk of people becoming increasingly dependent on these habits and becoming addicted. Sometimes such habits prove fatal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals that the rate of drug overdose deaths across the U.S. have soared by 167 percent from 1999 to 2015, out of which opioids alone have been responsible for over 33,000 of the 52,404 deaths in 2015.

In light of these statistics and the growing concern for deaths related to overdose, California Assemblyman Kevin McCarty has sponsored Assembly Bill (AB) 1512, with a proposed tax on prescription opioids, so that funding for drug rehabilitation and prevention services can be strengthened.

Similar bills have also been proposed in the state legislatures of Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Minnesota and in the U.S. Senate.

Startling statistics

As per the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the age-adjusted drug overdose death rate in the U.S. has increased from 6.1 per 100,000 in 1999 to 16.3 percent in 2015, accounting for an average hike of 5.5 percent per year.

The NCHS also observed that overdose deaths that were related to opioid abuse jumped 15.5 percent, from 28,647 to 33,091, in the space of just a year. Additionally, about 32 people living in California are admitted to medical facilities every day, for opioid-related incidents or non-fatal overdoses. More than 2,000 Californians overdosed fatally on prescription opioids, reiterating the point about how dangerous an addiction to prescription drugs can be.

According to a report by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 10.2 percent people, aged 12 years and above, have used illicit drugs in the past month and 2.5 percent people, aged 12 years and above, have used psychotherapeutic drugs for non-medical purposes in the past month.

Bill being hailed by professionals

McCarty’s AB 1512 is being hailed as a step in the right direction. The money generated from the 1 cent per milligram surcharge on prescription opioids, to be levied on wholesalers, would be used for rehabilitation and drug prevention purposes and would give thousands affected across the country some leeway to be treated.

Professionals in the field support the move and are of the opinion that it could possibly help reverse the opioid crisis. Taxing prescription painkillers can help reduce the growing financial burden faced by states due to overprescribing opioids and their misuse. It could also help fund drug addiction treatment by increasing access to detox programs and rehab facilities. Experts even advise other states to follow suit and pursue similar interests as efforts at the state level are essential to combat this epidemic.

Researchers from Columbia University anticipate that the U.S. will see a peak in deaths resulting from a drug overdose in 2017, which will then fall to non-epidemic levels by 2035. However, they highlight the fact that it will not burn itself out and will require dedicated efforts by the center and the states and consistent public health interventions.

Proactive effort is instrumental

America, as a country, has been consistently battling drug abuse for more than five decades now. Be it illicit drugs such as heroin and cocaine, or opioids and other prescription drugs, which seem to be the latest trend. Voicing similar concerns, professionals believe that state-level investments and efforts pertaining to curb the crisis is the only way to combat the opioid abuse, and they may very well be right.

While the tax will only impact the consumers fractionally, the cumulative sum would be to the tune of “tens of millions of dollars,” enough for a generous and concentrated effort toward rehabilitation and prevention of drug abuse. The money could also be used to raise awareness among the youth as well as other members of the society so that they can acknowledge and understand the harmful effects of abusing opioids, and choose healthier lifestyles.

McCarty’s tax proposal is a smart move to secure the funding needed to support drug treatment and detox programs for all those who need them. And, in the course of events, if patients become concerned about the rising cost of their opioid prescriptions, then maybe they’ll look at alternatives. They may also choose to taper or discontinue their medications altogether.

Help could be sought

As statistics show, opioid drug abuse is common among teens as well, and could potentially have devastating effects, if not curbed early. Boarding schools for troubled teens, which focus on rehabilitation, are good options for seeking professional help.

White River Academy, one of the leading therapeutic boarding schools, enables boys aged between 12 and 17 to get rid of their addictions and live a healthier, cleaner life. Located in rural Utah, our therapeutic residential school provides a controlled but empathetic environment so that young adults are able to realize their full potential while getting treatment for their addictions.

Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-520-0905 for a dedicated consultation on our treatment plans and programs. You could also chat online with our medical experts to seek more information about therapeutic residential schools.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top