POINT OF VIEW Trump administration should address addiction in America


To President-elect Donald J. Trump:

You have been elected as the outsider and someone who is expected to “drain the swamp.” You were elected because of your direct and unconventional ideas that alter the national discussion on many issues. You, along with the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, have an opportunity to address and ultimately reform two major issues that have been swept under the rug and received little to no attention during the presidential election — mental health care in this country, and the growing heroin and opioid epidemic that is ravaging our communities.

As a mental health professional who works with drug addicts, I have seen the failures of the current system. Too many addicts are cut off from adequate, long-term care that they need and deserve. Insurance companies are dictating treatment and not providing the necessary coverage for those in residential drug treatment programs.

While the insurance companies are deciding the length of care, our pharmaceutical companies are pumping pain pills out at an unimaginable rate, leading doctors to overprescribe highly addictive pills that are expensive and lead many individuals to find a cheaper source of pain relief: heroin.

Additionally, mental health care in this country is deplorable (to borrow a term from the election). Community mental health centers are poorly run, understaffed and driven by managed care. The Veterans Administration is a mess, as countless veterans wait for mental health care and benefits.

As a clinician, the current state of care is sad and something needs to change. Here are a few proposals that will address the issues listed above:

• Rein in pharmaceutical companies’ ability to continue overselling pain medications, particularly opioids, and lay out a five-to-10-year plan where pain management doctors MUST find alternate treatments.

• The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should track the amount of pain pills doctors prescribe to a patient and ensure overmedicating patients is not happening.

• Label fentanyl a Class A or B drug. This highly addictive drug is being used by heroin addicts and is 100 times stronger than heroin. If police catch someone with fentanyl, they cannot do anything. Empower police and local authorities to rid the drug from our communities.

• Cut the red tape at the Veterans Administration, and allow vets to access private mental health clinics and providers.

Your administration has a tremendous opportunity to tackle these issues. I hope you act boldly.

BRAD JAFFE, WEST PALM BEACH

Editor’s note: Brad Jaffe is president of Family Relations Intervention LLC in West Palm Beach.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

CARTOON
CARTOON

CARTOON VIEW DAVID HORSEY
COMMENTARY: Wait for Trump to sabotage your health care

Is Trumpcare finally dead? Even now, it’s hard to be sure, especially given Republican moderates’ long track record of caving in to extremists at crucial moments. But it does look as if the frontal assault on the Affordable Care Act has failed. And let’s be clear: The reason this assault failed wasn’t that Donald Trump did a...
POINT OF VIEW: Managed repair programs help avoid the middleman

Public adjusters want Florida’s homeowners to believe that any and all managed repair programs to handle restoration and repairs in the event of a covered claim result in claims being unfairly adjusted. They paint insurance companies as strangers to their customers yet expect those same homeowners to trust them — public adjusters &mdash...
Opinion: Why would you want Putin as a friend?

Leaving aside the question as to whether there was actual collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 election, it is undisputed that candidate Donald Trump was eager for a friendship between our two nations. The most recent accounts of the president seeking out more one-on-one time with Putin at the G-20 dinner...
Letters Bravo! ‘Sweeney Todd’ at Dramaworks is a great production

Bravo! ‘Sweeney Todd’ a great production Bravo to the cast and crew of Palm Beach Dramaworks! The short run of the musical “Sweeney Todd” is one of their most outstanding presentations, with amazingly skilled singers and actors. Our group of dedicated theatergoers was mesmerized by the scenery and intricate staging. We are so...
More Stories