Gov. Sandoval opioid abuse task force still looking for answers on how to combat the issue

LAS VEGAS - Nevadans overdosing on opioids are dying at a rate of more than one person a day.  Governor Brian Sandoval has spearheaded a wide-ranging effort to combat opioid addiction in the silver state.

On Monday, the governor and his task force went over the data trying to figure out what comes next, but the path forward is a pretty complicated one.

After a two-day summit on the state's opioid drug crisis last summer, Gov. Sandoval's Opioid Abuse Task Force is still looking for answers.

"So we can never, never accept the status quo," Gov. Sandoval said.

The status quo right now consists of doctors writing almost as many opioid painkiller prescriptions per year as there are people in the state.  Nearly, 400 Nevadans died last year from opioid overdoses.  Fifteen thousand were admitted to hospitals due to opiate-related disorders.
    
The majority of all of that is in Clark County.

"It's so easy to break people, so easy to tell them, 'you will live with this for the rest of your life,' and I will believe you when you tell me that," said Justin Fisse, former opioid addict.

Fisse struggled with addiction for years, but he beat it. Others haven't always been as lucky.  Fisse says he didn't always get his painkillers from a doctor.

"I've received it legally, and I've also received it diverted," Fisse said.

Nationwide, nearly eight out of 10 opioid users get pills from someone other than a doctor.  The majority of abusers are over the age of 45. 

However, State Senator Patricia Farley is among the lawmakers pushing prevention for the younger generations. 

"Similar to what we're doing here to get data, we need data to know what our youth are doing so we can assemble appropriate prevention programs," Farley said.

The state has secured $10 million in grants through 2019, plus parts of another $16 million grant and an unannounced portion of the Volkswagen settlement.  It will go toward equipment like drug incinerators and prevention programs.

Farley wants to see the money go towards treatment options.

"You have a debate right now in the community about whether or not you should be using other drugs to help people get off of drugs, which is the nationally-accepted model at this point versus the abstinence-based," Farley said.  Then people are talking about using marijuana, and again, I think we have to get data on it." 

Monday's meeting comes as 8 News Now is embarking on a wide-ranging investigation into the opioid problem in Nevada.  The 8 News NOW I-Team, 8 On Your Side, and Politics Now reporters are working to bring the Las Vegas valley stories its never heard about the opioid crisis plaguing the state.
 


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