American life expectancy continues to decline, with high mortality rate largely fueled by suicide and drug overdoses — both growing public health crises that reflect deficiencies across many social determinants of health.
Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and many others.
The DC Needle Exchange Program (DC NEX) will keep our communities safe by stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and connecting people to the health services they need. The District of Columbia Department of Health, HAHSTA supports comprehensive harm reduction programs. This includes:
- a needle exchange program that works to reduce the numbers of injection drug users (IDU) who are infected with HIV in the District
- helping to increase the number of District residents who know their HIV and Hepatitis C status, and
- ensuring people with HIV and Hepatitis have access to care and treatment.
In 2017, there were 279 overdose deaths that involved the use of opioids in the District. DC Health in conjunction with Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) Prescription Drug Overdose – Data Driven Prevention Initiative launched an opioid awareness and education campaign. The purpose is to bring attention to the dangers and risks of opioid misuse and abuse. Together, we can help protect the lives of Washingtonians and decrease the use of prescription drugs and opioids across the city.
Drug overdose deaths continue to increase in the United States.
- From 1999 to 2017, more than 700,000 people have died from a drug overdose.
- Around 68% of the more than 70,200 drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid.
- In 2017, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and illegal opioids like heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl) was 6 times higher than in 1999.
- On average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.