Obama announces new steps to combat heroin, prescription drug abuse

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The Washington Post on 10/21/2015 by Steven Mufson and Katie Zezima

Faced with a nationwide epidemic of heroin and prescription drug abuse, the Obama administration announced Wednesday that it will take steps to increase access to drug treatment and expand the training of doctors who prescribe opiate painkillers.

The efforts are likely to have a modest effect on the steep increase in heroin and prescription drug overdoses, which now kill more people than car accidents each year, and the barriers to treatment that many addicts face.

The administration hopes to double the number of doctors who can prescribe buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opiate addiction, to 60,000 from 30,000 over the next three years. More than 40 medical provider groups have committed to training more than half a million doctors, dentists and others on the safe prescription of opiate medications.