HONOLULU (KHON2) — The opioid epidemic is getting worse nationwide, and here in Hawaii. Across the country tens of thousands of people die every year due to overdose.

According to the CDC, more than 70,000 people died of an overdose in the U.S. in 2019 — this is more than four times the number from 1999.

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Two-thirds of the 70,000 overdoses were due to opioids, most likely fentanyl. From 2018 to 2019, drug overdoses across the country have increased drastically and continue to rise. 

Hawaii has developed a county-level profile that identifies areas of high burden for drug use and abuse. These profiles aim to inform the public and local partners about the opioid epidemic and the impact it has on state resources and activities. 

Currently, the Hawaii Department of Health is looking at Prescription Drug Monitoring Program data on autopsies of victims of fatal opioid-related overdoses.  

The data suggests opioid-related mortality in Hawaii is mostly linked to prescribed, legally obtained opioid pain relievers.

Hawaii Opioid Initiative is a collaboration with healthcare professionals, public safety and community partners that work together to address the misuse and overdose related to opioids. 

They started in 2017 and now have seven workgroups that meet regularly to implement their Hawaii Opioid Initiative strategic plan and promote system improvements.

Even though opioids are there to help manage pain, they are highly addictive when not used appropriately.

The Hawaii Opioid Initiative reports using opioids without a proper prescription can lead to long-term opioid use after just five days. 

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For more information on opioids and how to get help for you or your loved one, head to Hawaii Opioid Initiate’s website