POINT OF VIEW: One action can help reverse the opioid epidemic

Jan 04, 2018

Across the nation, millions of families spent the holiday season mourning the loss of children, parents and other loved ones.

As holiday shopping commenced, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that Americans are dying younger — an unprecedented and frightening trend not seen since the 1960s. All because of an epidemic that is nothing short of a national emergency.

The opioid crisis is the worst drug crisis our country has ever seen. It’s insidious. More than 140 people die every day. That exceeds those killed in car accidents or by gun violence.

As outlined in President Donald Trump’s 2017 summary released last week, his administration and Congress have already taken bold and collaborative steps to address this crisis. All of the efforts the president has made — from the formation of his Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction to the Opioid Crisis to first lady Melania Trump’s dedication to the epidemic to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s recommendation to strengthen the oversight of these highly addictive drugs — are significant and commendable.

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But more needs to be done. There’s one step the president can and should take now that would kick-start a nationwide recovery from this epidemic. Declare the opioid crisis a national emergency.

Unlike a “public health emergency,” a national emergency declaration would offer much-needed aid to struggling states, expand behavioral health programs for those suffering from addiction, and bolster research on substance abuse treatment programs.

While there’s no silver bullet, the funding and resources enabled through a declaration of national emergency would go a long way to eradicating one of our nation’s deadliest epidemics. Americans need and deserve this strong, tangible commitment from President Trump and his administration.

TAUNA DONALDSON, VERO BEACH