It’s an issue that has long gone overlooked, but President Trump is determined to address it — and he is even taking the advice of a White House commission to do so.
President Trump announced, in a joint press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), that the opioid epidemic will be declared a national emergency “next week.”
JUST IN: President Trump says he’ll be declaring a national emergency for the opioid crisis “next week” https://t.co/pyblkHeiph
— Hardball (@hardball) October 16, 2017
The President added, “People have no understanding of what you just said. That is a very, very big statement. It’s a very important step. And to get to that step, a lot of work has to be done and it’s time-consuming work. We’re going to be doing it next week.”
Back in August, Fox News reported that Trump told reporters the epidemic was a “serious problem, the likes of which we have never had.”
Indeed, The New York Times reported that opioids killed more than 33,000 people in 2015 alone. This is almost as many people as those who died in traffic accidents that year.
Also in 2015, there were more deaths from heroin alone–one of many forms of opioids–than from gun-related homicides.
Heroin may seem a distant relative to prescribed pain prescription, but it may not be. Between 21 to 29 percent of those prescribed pain pills end up misusing them, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
While 8 to 12 percent of these people develop an opioid disorder, 4 to 6 percent of them also begin to use heroin. This accounts for 80 percent of heroin users.
Fox News reports that President Trump’s declaration could allow the Federal government to tap into the Public Health Emergency Fund in an attempt to deal with the crisis.
A White House commission conducted an investigation earlier this year that focused on finding a way to deal with the opioid crisis. The commission strongly recommended Trump declare a national emergency. Those in the nonprofit sector have also agreed.
Gary Mendell, the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Shatterproof, has previously argued to Fox News that precisely this–more funding–is needed. He has also said that a declaration of a national emergency would bring more attention to the issue.
“It gives the President and Congress expedited ways to fund what needs to be funded to save the lives of so many every day and mobilizes the cabinet to attack this issue,” Mendell said.
President Trump has declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency. Do you agree with him?
He added, “People are talking about this more and more, but if the president were to declare this a national emergency, it creates recognition around the country and awareness around the country that this epidemic needs right now.”
The US Department of Health & Human Services has, so far, focused on combating the opioid epidemic by trying to increase access to treatment and recovery, including using and researching new overdose-reversing drugs. The HHS has also set better practice guidelines for pain management.
President Trump’s designation will go a long way toward freeing people from this debilitating addiction.