Obama declares this week Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week

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WASHINGTON – President Obama declared the week of September 18-24, 2016 Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week.

This week, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other Justice Department officials—as well as U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Bureau of Prison facilities across the country—will participate in over 250 different events highlighting the importance of prevention, enforcement, and treatment.

The Department of Agriculture will host state forums on the epidemic in Connecticut and Colorado.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald will lead a forum in Washington, DC, on treatment and support for veterans with opioid use disorder.

Obama released the proclamation on Monday morning.

“During Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week, we pause to remember all those we have lost to opioid use disorder, we stand with the courageous individuals in recovery, and we recognize the importance of raising awareness of this epidemic,” Obama said in the proclamation.

In the proclamation, Obama says is calling on Congress to provide $1.1 billion to expand access to treatment services for opioid use disorder.

“These new investments would build on the steps we have already taken to expand overdose prevention strategies, and increase access to naloxone — the overdose reversal drug that first responders and community members are using to save lives. We are also working to improve opioid prescribing practices and support targeted enforcement activities,” Obama said in the proclamation.

Obama’s proclamation cones as heroin overdose numbers continue to rise in Indiana. State health numbers reveal 452 people died in Indiana due to overdoses involving opioids in 2014, with the total going up to 595 in 2015.

The state health department recently received more than $500,000 from the CDC to expand overdose prevention programs.