From the East Room of the White House today, President Trump declared that the Opioid Crisis in America is now a “Public Health Emergency.” Citing the toll that the crisis has taken on the young and the old, the rich and the poor, and those in both urban and rural communities, the President asserted that the current generation can be the “generation that ends the epidemic.”
“Last year, we lost at least 64,000 Americans to overdoses. That’s 175 lost American lives per day. That’s seven lost lives per hour in our country. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of unintentional death in the United States by far.”
An Aggressive Campaign Against the Opioid Crisis
Stressing the fact that “as Americans, we cannot allow this to continue,” President Trump went on to outline what he feels needs to be done if the United States is to curb the rates of overdose and deaths, and prevent more Americans from becoming addicted to opioids including prescription opioids and heroin. An aggressive campaign against the crisis was promised by the President, and one that aims to take on the opioid problem from many fronts.
Prevention was a big topic in the announcement, with the President outlining that more needs to be done to raise awareness in the youngest of our nation and to show children and young adults – from an early age – the dangers inherent in prescription and illicit drug use. This tone of prevention carried on in his call for retraining doctors on prescription guidelines and for pharmacies to follow the precedent set by CVS Pharmacies to not prescribe more than 7 days of opioid medications at a time.
The Need for Better Treatment for Opioid Addiction
Treatment was another big factor in the President’s plan to overcome the crisis, with President Trump hinting at a repeal of the “16 bed provision,” which has limited treatment options for those covered by Medicaid in the past. Continuing with the need for treatment, the President called for better access to addiction treatment within the prison system that would help individuals to reenter society free from addiction – a problem that is rampant in the American prison system.
Enforcing the law was presented as another front in the battle, with President Trump reiterating the need to break up gangs, cartels and the distribution networks that bring many of the illicit drugs into the country, including the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl. This push for enforcement of the law didn’t stop with the traffickers and dealers of drugs alone, however, with the President hinting at what could be tougher penalties and stricter laws for all aspects of drug crime. He stated:
“Every person who buys illicit drugs here in America should know that they are risking their futures, their families, and even their lives. And every American should know that if they purchase illegal drugs, they are helping to finance some of the most violent, cruel, and ruthless organizations anywhere in the world. Illegal drug use is not a victimless crime. There is nothing admirable, positive, or socially desirable about it. There is nothing desirable about drugs. They’re bad.”
Ending his speech on a tone of unity, President Trump once again stated that all Americans have been equally touched by the crisis, and that all Americans needs to work together to uplift, care for, and strengthen our families and communities.
“Working together, we will defeat this opioid epidemic. It will be defeated. We will free our nation from the terrible affliction of drug abuse. And, yes, we will overcome addiction in America. We are going to overcome addiction in America.”
Following the President’s speech and the declaration of the opioid epidemic as a National Public Health Emergency, it is important to remember that very few details were given and are known at this time on exactly how the President and his administration plan to tackle the crisis. What we know for sure is that the seriousness of addiction in America, and the detriment it has caused to our society, has been officially recognized.
Through prevention, treatment, and enforcement the administration plans to reverse the trends of the past decades and end the growing problem of opioid abuse and addiction. While Americans must now wait to find out the details of the plans to address this monumental task, we can be sure of one thing: The Trump Administration aims to make big changes to the status quo of the pharmacy industry, the addiction treatment industry, the illegal drug trade, and to the health and wellbeing of millions of Americans. Weighing the pros and cons of the administration’s intended changes, will come as the intentions are unveiled.
At Elevate Addiction Services, we have seen first-hand how opioids have dug their way into every corner of America in the past several years. It is very true that opioids have put many lives at risk, torn apart families, and left many dead their wake. We hope that The United States of America will finally be able to offer help in giving more access to treatment, and hope that we can give those the treatment they are seeking in the future.