I recently had the privilege of meeting with Dr. Miriam Adelson during a visit to the clinic she founded with her husband in Las Vegas in 2000. The staff at the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Clinic for Drug Abuse Treatment & Research is committed to treating those who suffer from opioid and prescription drug addiction. I was impressed with Dr. Adelson’s understanding of the complexities of substance abuse, as well as her passion to address this deadly epidemic sweeping across Nevada and the rest of our nation.

When I toured domestic violence shelters in Maine and New Hampshire, advocates repeatedly discussed their concerns regarding the increasing misuse of heroin and prescription drugs in their states. During my tour of Dr. Adelson’s facility, I was surprised to learn that Nevada has experienced an 80 percent increase in overdose fatalities since 1999, with opioid addiction playing a critical role in these deaths.

A 2010 Centers for Disease Control report stated that one in twenty Americans age 12 or older has used prescription painkillers for nonmedical reasons. In addition, many prescription drug users ultimately resorted to using heroin instead, because it was a cheaper alternative. The CDC also estimated that nearly 15,000 Americans die annually from overdoses involving prescription painkillers, and heroin-related overdoses have nearly quadrupled since 2002. These statistics are staggering and clearly illustrate that opioid and prescription drug addiction is a threat to the health of our country.

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