America’s opioid crisis continues

WHAT IT IS

WHY IT MATTERS

Opioid overdoses killed more than 50,000 people in 2016, more people each year than guns or car accidents. Declaring the crisis a national emergency could provide states and federal agencies with millions of dollars and other resources to combat on multiple fronts what many have called an epidemic.

  • IT’S A CRISIS — “Addiction is a disease”

    • Increase awareness:   Most Americans recognize opioids as a problem, and nearly two-thirds say governments haven’t done enough to address it. Declaring an emergency to increase resources and funding can’t hurt.
    • Increase funds:   Funds are needed to expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs, which double a person’s chances of remaining drug free, but often have long waiting lists and are difficult to access, especially for rural addicts.
    • Naloxone:   Federal agencies say making naloxone — a lifesaving overdose reversal medication — more available and training first responders to administer the drug could reduce deaths.
  • IT’S NOTHING NEW — “We don’t need an emergency declaration”

WHERE WE ARE NOW

  • President Trump said the opioid crisis is a national emergency, but no detailed plan of action has been announced by the White House.
  • The Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis made a number of recommendations, including expanding access to treatment, mandating prescriber education, funding to enhance access to MAT programs, and making naloxone more available.
  • A final report is expected later this year.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT