The Obama administration today announced some much-needed changes to the national policies on distribution of and access to anti-opioids, the powerful medications used to treat opioid drug overdoses.

Strict limits on who could prescribe medications in the event of overdose—a relic of a previous approach to treating addiction like a criminal scourge rather than a disease—are being eased, giving doctors the ability to prescribe to and treat nearly three times the previous limit of patients (just 100 each).

The ability to administer anti-opioids is an important step in helping to save lives as America grapples with rising rates of opioid drug overdoses and deaths. Opioids are a class of drugs commonly prescribed or administered as painkillers, but which frequently carry potential for abuse and addiction.

Public health and law enforcement experts also see the opioid epidemic as being related to the growing heroin epidemic in America, with people some who abuse opioids moving on to use heroin, which is frequently cheaper or more readily accessible.

The Department of Health and Human services announced the rules this week but they’ll take effect in August.

[H/T The Hill]