Experts are urging the president to declare a state of emergency due to the severity of the national opioid epidemic.
President Trump campaigned on a promise of stopping the nation-wide crisis, which killed 33,000 people in 2015 alone. More Americans are addicted to painkillers and heroin than tobacco, a truly startling statistic. As he said in his inaugural address: “ drugs (opioids) have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential”. The death toll is climbing. 142 people die from an opioid overdose everyday. Regardless of partisanship, Washington saw it was time to take action.
After Trump took office in January, he created the President’s Commission to Combat Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. Chris Christie, the current governor of New Jersey and former Republican presidential candidate, is its leader. He believes that the issue is serious enough that the president should declare a state of emergency. Doing so would benefit legislative outlooks and raise public awareness of the crisis. Christie wants to “awaken every American to this simple fact: If this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will”. The commission aims to put pressure on Congress in an effort to refocus funding toward helping those affected by the epidemic. They suggest this effort should take shape in the following ways, among others:
- Adding a breadth of drug rehabilitation options under Medicaid
- Encouraging the creation of non-opioid pain medications
- Increasing protection under “Good Samaritan” laws to protect those reporting overdoses and other opioid-related injuries
They also recommend the president could use the bully pulpit, a method used to capture the attention and communicate broadly with the people, to raise awareness and bring solutions to light.
Opioid addiction has been an increasing issue in United States since the mid-1990s. When pharmaceutical companies introduced slow-release, “addiction-proof” drugs, doctors started prescribing them at higher rates, as they were reluctant before to give painkillers to their patients after the morphine crisis several decades earlier. Clearly, the new opioids were not “addiction-proof”; if they are crushed, they give off an even stronger high. This discovery in conjunction with doctor shopping, fake prescriptions, and gross overprescribing has landed the country in the state it is in today.
Licit opioid abuse is a gateway to heroin abuse. Combining the two nearly always leads to an overdose.
Hopefully, President Trump will heed the warning from his commission and declare a state of emergency to combat the crisis at the national level.
For a more in-depth look, read the Washington Post article on the state of emergency HERE.