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Christie to Lead Opiate Crisis Task Force, Cuts Budget

In what has turned out to be one in a long line of reversals and mixed messages, Trump has done two significant things that have the potential to greatly impact our ability has a country to successfully fight the opioid epidemic that has taken so many American lives.

First, Trump turned to our own Governor Chris Christie and asked that he help lead the charge in terms of planning a strategy to manage opiate addiction and the high rate of overdose deaths. This was a smart move. Governor Christie has dedicated the last part of his tenure to doing little else, recognizing that New Jersey is at the apex of the opioid addiction epidemic. He has created and implemented a plan that includes prevention, awareness and education, and acute care for overdose as well as access to treatment.

Next, Trump suggested that Governor Christie could perform magic with few resources by presenting a budget that significantly cut money needed to continue research into effective treatments and monitoring of the current epidemic and money needed to provide current (read: low) levels of access to care. There isn’t money in the budget to raise the standard of treatment and access to that treatment that is so desperately needed.

Needless to say, the country is confused, and those constituents who believed Trump’s campaign promises – that is, his purported commitment to doing something concrete to truly decrease the numbers of American families struck by addiction – are not happy with the sitting president.

In the wake of this most recent potential strike against the country’s ability to effectively heal from addiction,

There are a few important things to remember:

  1. A proposed budget is not a passed budget.

This budget has not yet been passed. At this point, it is a proposal only – one that is highly revealing of the sitting president’s priorities, but a proposal nonetheless. It is important to note, too, that it does not appear to be getting much support thus far, and it is not just disgruntled voters that are voicing concerns but Republicans who are pointing out problem after problem with Trump’s ideas for how the budget should be allocated in 2018. It is highly unlikely that Trump will be able to get this version of the budget passed, especially without the support of his own party.

  1. Your voice matters.

Whether or not you support the president or his choices, if the proposed budget concerns you, now is the time to pick up the phone, email, and petition your legislators. Your voice absolutely matters, and with so many seats up for grabs in the coming years, many sitting legislators are working overtime to make sure what they are doing in Washington accurately represents their people back home. But they cannot accurately represent you if they do not know how you feel, what you want, and what direction you think the budget and the future should take when it comes to helping those who are struggling due to addiction.

  1. The government is not the only means of support in this fight.

Though addiction treatment programs across the country often rely heavily on government funding, it is not the only source of financial support. Fundraisers, awareness campaigns, and grant seeking can help nonprofit organizations and individuals who have the drive and ability to make a significant impact in connecting those in need with the resources that can help them heal. Take the time to look at the hundreds of nonprofit organizations across the country and connect with one or more that is doing work you respect. Volunteer your time to assist as well as any resources you have allocated for charitable contribution.

  1. Your family doesn’t have to wait for the government to get it right.

If your loved one is actively in addiction, you do not have to stand by and wait for the federal and state governments to determine whether or not they will fund the programs your family so desperately needs. Take the time to learn more about the programs that are available to you, determine what financial resources you have available to fund the process of treatment, and talk to your medical provider about the most reasonable solution to your family member’s opiate addiction treatment needs. Treatment is not free, but it can be affordable, and it does not have to wait for the approval of any government entity.

Is today the day you take a hard look at your family’s ability to get your loved one into treatment?