President Donald Trump declared the burgeoning opioid crisis a national emergency on Aug. 10, 2017, paving the way for states and federal agencies to offer more resources and power to tackle the epidemic. The surprise announcement came barely two days after the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Dr. Thomas E. Price, announced that the Trump administration had no immediate intentions to declare the country’s opioid crisis as a public health emergency.
“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 White House said in a brief statement released late on Thursday.
Earlier, on Aug. 8, 2017, President Trump had blamed the Obama administration for the opioid epidemic, saying, “They looked at this scourge and they let it go by.”
“Federal drug prosecutions have gone down in recent years. We’re going to be bringing them up and bringing them up rapidly. At the end of 2016, there were 23 percent fewer than in 2011. So they looked at this scourge and they let it go by, and we’re not letting it go by,” Trump had said before a briefing on the epidemic that has been devastating the United States for nearly two decades.
The Trump administration’s stand gives public health experts a new hope that the opioid epidemic will now be dealt with strongly to save thousands of lives these drugs have been claiming every year. However, they were disappointed when Price had said that the “president certainly believes that we will treat it as an emergency – and it is an emergency.”
“We believe that at this point, the resources that we need or the focus that we need to bring to bear to the opioid crises can be addressed without the declaration of an emergency,” the HHS secretary had said.
Price’s statement appeared contrary to the president’s bipartisan opioid commission of requesting an emergency declaration. President Trump had created the opioid commission under New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in March 2017. The commission had urged the president to declare the opioid epidemic as a national emergency. Equating the surge in opioid overdose deaths to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the commission said that such a declaration would grant the necessary powers to the cabinet to take decisive initiatives, forcing Congress to pay attention to funding and enabling the executive branch to deal effectively with the loss of life.
In the last 20 years, the opioid abuse has spread like wild fire across the length and breadth of the United States without a definite end in sight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and heroin) quadrupled. From 2000 to 2015 more than half a million people died from drug overdoses. 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.”
Studies show that in majority of the cases, doctors, dentists and other licensed medical practitioners generally prescribe opioids to their patients to manage post-surgical pain or other painful conditions stemming from chronic ailments. However, there have been innumerable instances where such painkillers have been overprescribed and have resulted in enormous rates of drug dependence, fatal overdoses, and even related-criminal activity. The origins of this raging epidemic can be traced back to the early 1990s when primary care physicians prescribed opioids for chronic nonlife-threatening conditions. This practice gained impetus when aggressive marketing strategies to push new powerful opioid analgesics in the market were adopted by major pharmaceutical companies.
Research has revealed that innumerable individuals nationwide are engaging in nonmedical use of prescription opioids. America has woken up to the dangerous reality that overdoses caused by prescription drugs have actually killed more countrymen than weapons or road rages. Though public health officials have spread a high degree of awareness to outline the seriousness of the crisis, it isn’t doing much to control the opioid abuse that is causing immense devastation. The common American still dwells in a make-believe world, ignorant of the possible perils of opioids. The unsuspecting majority is of the impression that something prescribed by a physician can never be harmful. According to Kim Johnson, Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, SAMHSA, “Just like any drug, the more it’s out there, the more it’s available, the more likely it is to be abused.”
Today, addiction to opioids has surpassed all cultural and economic barriers in the U.S., making people completely dependent on them. With millions of Americans finding themselves trapped in the shackles of addiction faster than they may ever realize, experts believe that though opioids are addictive, full-fledged addiction is the outcome of an emotional dependence.
The only way to lead a sober life again is to undergo an individualized opioid addiction treatment program at a well-known rehab to reverse the damaging effects of lethal opioids. If you or your loved one is battling addiction to any opioid or heroin, 24/7 Recovery Helpline is there to help. Call at our helpline number (855) 441-4405 or go for a drug addiction help online chat for more information.