Photo: Aaron Yoshino
Every day in the U.S., an average of 115 people die from opioids, a class of drugs that includes prescription pain pills such as OxyContin plus heroin and fentanyl. The White House says the opioid epidemic costs the nation more than $500 billion a year, and it has been declared the worst public health crisis in our country’s history.
Hawaii’s numbers remain small compared to the rest of the country. In 2016, the state had 5.2 opioid-related deaths per 100,000 people. The rate was 43.4 in West Virginia and 32.9 in Ohio, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
“For once it’s good to be 50th,” says state Sen. Josh Green, who recently helped pass legislation requiring prescribers and doctors to go through informed consent with patients receiving opioids. Nonetheless, he emphasizes this is not the time to be complacent.