Of Alabama’s 736 reported drug overdose deaths in 2015, 38 percent were caused by opioids, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation review of data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And though the rate of opioid pain reliever prescriptions in Alabama dipped slightly from 1.43 prescriptions per person in 2012 to 1.2 in 2015, the rate was still the highest in the United States, according to CDC data and an investigation by the Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey recently issued an executive order to combat the state’s current opioid crisis and develop strategies to reduce the number of deaths linked to opioid use. Ivey has appointed Dr. David L. Albright, professor and Hill Crest Foundation Endowed Chair in Mental Health in The University of Alabama School of Social Work, to serve on the Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council. Albright is one of 36 members serving on the council.
Albright is co-chair of the council’s treatment and recovery support committee, which develops strategies to increase access to treatment for opioid use disorders and to services designed to support long-term recovery, Albright said. Sarah Harkless, director of substance abuse treatment and development for the Alabama department of mental health, is committee chair.
“Our committee really addresses a number of issues, from stigma to reimbursement, to evidence-based practices, to workforce training and development,” Albright said.