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Declare National State of Emergency to Fight Opioid Crisis

When New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie, a governor who has dedicated the last year of his governorship to getting the opiate epidemic under control, was appointed chair of Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, families in crisis due to addiction felt hopeful.

After months of deliberation and investigation, the commission finally came up with a recommendation based on interim findings that could have a positive impact on the steadily increasing rates of opiate overdose deaths across the country: to elevate the acknowledgement of the opiate addiction problem to the status of national public health emergency.

Said Christie on behalf of the commission: “We have a 9/11-scale loss every three weeks. We hope that the President declares a public health emergency in this country.”

About 75 percent of those lost to drug addiction every three weeks die due to use of opiate drugs. It is not just heroin and painkillers that are contributing to the high rates of death; now, fentanyl is the chief problem. This synthetic opiate is 100 times more powerful than morphine, and it is often added to heroin in order to increase its potency.

Christie also emphasized the fact that about 80 percent of people who developed a heroin addiction started their path by taking prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin.

For these reasons, part of the commission’s recommendations included increased education requirements on the topic for physicians who prescribe painkillers, and required continuing education for physicians and other therapeutic and medical professionals who are already certified.

Trump’s response to Christie’s request to identify the problem as a national public health emergency? Initially, “no.”

Though Trump promised “by working with our healthcare and law enforcement experts we will fight this deadly epidemic and the United States will win,” he initially ignored the recommendation to call the opiate epidemic a national public health emergency and offered no further suggestions on how best to handle the problem.

According to Tom Price, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Trump administration is working to come up with a “comprehensive strategy” to address the issue, but he gave no indication on what that meant or what might be included, and emphasized that declaring a national public health emergency was not necessary.

Two days later, the White House issued the following statement: “Building upon the recommendations in the interim report from the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, President Donald J. Trump has instructed his Administration to use all appropriate emergency and other authorities to respond to the crisis caused by the opioid epidemic.”

The Time Is Now

In 2015, the latest year for which national data is available, more than 33,000 Americans died of overdoses that involved use of opiate drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Every day, about 100 Americans join that number.

Families who are facing addiction are unsure whether or not the federal government is truly going to invest the resources necessary to make positive changes in the coming months and years. It was made clear to politicians who were on the campaign trail last year that the nature of this problem is serious and that the person who took office would need to make it a top priority. Unfortunately, Trump has for the most part tied the problem to his focus on our southern border, claiming that his policies there are serving to stop drugs from coming in. The fact is that while drug interdiction is an important part of the puzzle, it does nothing to help people who are currently living with addiction and in need of comprehensive treatment that can help them avoid overdose.

Treatment Is the Answer

Connecting with a program that offers intensive and personalized treatment is the only effective response to helping people break free from addictive behaviors and create new patterns of response to emotional issues, mental health disorders, and trauma. For those who are addicted to opiates, this can often include:

  • Medical detox
  • Medical stabilization and care for chronic pain and other medical ailments
  • Therapeutic interventions that range from traditional therapies to alternative and cutting-edge therapies
  • Educated, experienced staff members who work together as a team
  • Treatment plans based on treatment goals that are updated and amended as needed
  • Family therapy, education, and support
  • Long-term aftercare support

What does your family need to manage the addiction issues facing your loved one? Are you ready to take the first step toward a treatment program that can help you all to begin the healing process?