In a preliminary report, the White House Opioid Commission tells Trump to declare a national emergency. The Commission’s report focused on the opioid epidemic in the United States, with special attention paid to the death rate due to drug overdoses. The report also outlined recommended measures to take to combat the epidemic.
The Opioid Epidemic
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people died from heroin overdoses than from gun violence in 2015. That year, there were more than 33,000 deaths attributed to opioid overdose and 20,000 deaths due to other drugs.
In the 1990s, there was a huge increase in doctors prescribing opioid medication. This may have been partially due to pharmaceutical companies marketing these kinds of drugs. To combat the subsequent increase in prescription drug abuse, both federal and state law enforcement agencies cracked down on the availability of these prescriptions. The term “pill mill” was often used, and more rigid guidelines for prescription opioids were employed.
Unfortunately, this backfired in a devastating way. People who were abusing prescription drugs transitioned to using illegal narcotics like heroin. Heroin use is still a major problem in the country. And now, with the increasing presence of fentanyl-laced heroin, the death rate will continue to go up.
The White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis didn’t just report the number of deaths attributed to the opioid epidemic. They also presented a list of recommendations for combatting the crisis. The recommendations included measures like expanding Medicaids’s funding for drug abuse treatment and having all law enforcement officers carry Naloxone to revive overdose victims.
These aren’t new ideas. Public health experts, as well as advocates for drug policy reform, have been proposing these measures for years.
Final Hit: The White House Opioid Commission Tells Trump to Declare a National Emergency
The commission states that the proposed declaration would “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.”
Scare tactics aside, they may be right. Statistically speaking, that is.
Research is currently being conducted to determine whether or not cannabis can be used to combat the opioid crisis. Senator Elizabeth Warren supports this research to the fullest, as do experts in drug addiction.
The opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing matters in the United States right now. Even if the White House Opioid Commission tells Trump to declare a national emergency, it might not help. Increasing Medicaid funding goes against the president’s dream of repealing the Affordable Care Act. Trump also wants to increase “tough on crime” measures, which will likely not help solve the opioid crisis at all.
Still, the commission’s report ends on an optimistic note: “Our country needs you, Mr. President. We know you care deeply about this issue.”