Obama to announce steps to fight drug abuse

Obama: Prescription drug misuse a gateway to heroin
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Story highlights

  • Obama issued a memorandum to federal departments and agencies calling for increased prescriber training
  • The President also called for an improvement to access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use

Charleston, West Virginia (CNN)President Barack Obama will announce new steps Wednesday to address prescription drug abuse and heroin use at a community forum in Charleston, West Virginia -- a state hard hit by drug addiction.

On Wednesday, Obama issued a memorandum to federal departments and agencies calling for increased prescriber training for professionals who prescribe opiates, pushing for training of more than 540,000 health care providers in the next two years.
The President also called for an improvement to access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use and announced the commitments of 40 provider groups to achieve those goals.
    "Prescription drug abuse and heroin use have taken a heartbreaking toll on too many Americans and their families, while straining law enforcement and treatment programs," the White House said in a statement.
    "More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do in motor vehicle crashes and the majority of those overdoses involve prescription medications. Health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medications in 2012 -- enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills," the White House said.
    West Virginia was ranked highest in the number of drug overdose deaths, at a rate of 33.5 people out of 100,000, according to a report released by the Trust for America's Health in June.