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Opioid Crisis a National Emergency Says Presidential Commission

by Countable | 11.16.17

What’s the story?

The President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, created by executive order in March, released its interim report on Monday. The Commission implored President Trump to declare the opioid epidemic an official "national public health emergency", which would mobilize federal resources and public attention necessary to combat the crisis.

Why does it matter?

The bipartisan commission, chaired by NJ Governor Chris Christie, called the opioid epidemic "unparalleled". Statistics from the report state that an average of 142 Americans die from opioid overdoses every day. In three weeks, as many Americans die from opioids as from the 9/11 attacks.

The reports states:

"Opioids are a prime contributor to our addiction and overdose crisis. In 2015,nearly two-thirds of drug overdoses were linked to opioids like Percocet, OxyContin, heroin,and fentanyl."

All told, from 1990-2015, over 560,000 individuals died of drug overdoses in the U.S., "a death toll larger than the entire population of Atlanta."

To combat this epidemic, the report offers this striking call to action:

"If this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.”

The commission urged President Trump to use the "moral and legal authority" of his office to combat the crisis. Specifically, they called on the president to:

  • Grant waivers allowing for Medicaid to expand treatment coverage in all 50 states.

  • Mandate prescriber education initiatives

  • Remove barriers to expanded use of existing Medication-Assisted Treatments (MATs) and instruct the National Institutes of Health to focus research on developing new MATs as well as non-opioid pain treatments.

  • Introduce legislation to expand the availability of naloxone, an emergency, overdose prevention medication and equip all law enforcement personnel with the means to administer it.

  • Focus border security resources on the current influx of fentanyl: a synthetic opioid twice as strong as heroin that is flooding the market.

  • Require data sharing between state and federal prescription drug monitoring programs, which track individual users and allow for identification of prescribers engaging in dangerous patterns of over prescription.

  • Adjust patient privacy laws to allow for communication between providers in the case of substance abuse.

  • Enforce existing law that forces insurers to provide equal coverage for both physical and mental health/substance abuse diagnoses.

The Commission plans to submit a final report in October, and the report shall consist of "a full-scale review of federal programs, regulations, laws, and funding mechanisms targeted toward addressing addiction."

The New York Times interviewed a variety of addiction specialists and public health professionals. All of whom agreed with the call for a declaration of a national public health emergency and found that the commission’s recommendations were a "a significant first step towards acknowledging the severity of the crisis we face and the urgent need for action."

The Times also noted that the governors of Arizona, Florida, Maryland and Virginia have already declared states of emergency regarding the opioid addiction crisis. Alaska Governor Bill Walker has issued a disaster declaration.

What can you do?

Do you support the recommendations of the Commission? Have you or your family and friends been touched by the opioid crisis? What did the Commission miss, from your perspective, in their recommendations?

Use the Take Action button to tell your reps what you think!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Incirlik Air Base / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(49)
  • Milan
    08/02/2017
    ···

    How about allowing medicinal marijuana? What a thought...Everything in this world is dangerous - including water - if taken in the wrong quantities. Responsibly taken - cannabis can solve so many problems. Less addiction - less violence - more taxes? Hemp as a plant can be used for fabric, biofuel to name just a few things. Not to mention it actually replenishes the soil rather than depleting it as so many of our commodity crops do

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  • Keith
    08/02/2017
    ···

    You should look into John Oliver's story about the opioid epidemic. It goes beyond a mere addiction problem (which is an illness, not a crime). It is a Big Pharma problem. If you want to deal with this epidemic, go after the industry responsible for it. They advertised OxyContin as "a completely harmless, nonaddictive pain management." And the very woman they used as their poster child, went on to lose everything because she became a junky. It additionally, marijuana has been shown to help with both pain management, and opioid addiction, with a truly nonaddictive plant.

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  • Jacob
    08/02/2017
    ···

    This could be solved with a little natural plant remedy we call cannabis. It's been proven to reduce opioid use, not to mention it would be our economy a big boost with jobs and revenue. Something trump promised but has yet to follow through on. Just saying. Plus it would help out a lot of us veterans who suffer from PTSD. Making us productive members of society rather than angry or drugged up zombies, useless to anybody.

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  • Rick
    08/02/2017
    ···

    I’am encouraging my Representatives to consider this statement. I was told when I was a young man by our pastor. We are all gods children we will make mistakes humans are not perfect we weren’t created to be. We are to help one another. Say this a profound impacting me. Opiates I know a little about I was on them for 12years before I detox I done this with the help of my wife of 38 years she watched her husband suffer for 2 weeks. How anyone could possibly take 4 80mg OxyContin and 6 30mg oxycodone a day and function I did and I was productive. I technically was a fictional junky or addict. And it was all legal because I had a yes piece of paper from the doctor the prescription .So I Know what I’m saying is based in fact. Rehabilitate don’t Incarcerate. Save a life don’t ruin a life. Look at the human cost. You don’t wake up one day and think I want to be a addicted to opiates. If you really want to help talk to the people that have turned there life around. Statistics on paper are not the same as face to face . Everyone is different learn from them firsthand. Sincerely Rick Keeley PS we’re all in this together weather you want to be. Be a human being and help.

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  • Erin
    08/02/2017
    ···

    I don't see anything here that impacts Big Pharma, the real cause of our opioid epidemic. If you expect this problem to be solved, you need to address the real issue: pharmaceutical companies distributing pills in pursuit of profit, with no regard for long-term effects. I'd suggest legalizing cannabis, but that's bound to fail if you insist on protecting Big Pharma's profit margin.

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  • TracyEckels
    08/02/2017
    ···

    This problem was caused by big Pharmaceutical companies. Who do they think are taking their drugs? Their incentive is simply put "profit". And at the expense of all the lives they impact.

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  • Suzi
    08/03/2017
    ···

    I encourage the use of medical marijuana to help with addiction and anxiety from ptsd.

    Like (6)
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  • NanceinNJ
    08/02/2017
    ···

    The "opioid epidemic" may in fact be real - but I caution against knee jerk solutions - especially those which may have the unintended consequence of denying adequate pain management to those who legitimately require such medication to bring pain to tolerable levels to survive. I speak as the caregiver of one such individual in NJ - who because of the recently adopted CDC guidelines combined with NJ's new stringent regulations - has doctors fearful, and cutting medications across the board regardless of patient outcomes. I'm sorry for those who become addicted and OD from unauthorized use of such medications. But I read with increasing frequency of patients with inadequately treated pain committing suicide. I promise you, it is a real and significant risk. So think about those you are consigning to a bedridden existence to save those who abuse these medications. Think about the myriad of individuals who, like my wife, have genetic disorders that interfere with opioid metabolism, rendering standard doses in accordance with CDC guidelines useless. Yet, her doctor has since the CDC guidelines were published proceeded to decrease her medications despite increasing pain and immobility. Her condition is worsened by lack of activity - but activity is too painful to endure. She is 56, and now leaves the house only for doctors appointments.

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  • Gordy
    08/02/2017
    ···

    I ignored this issue for some time even though I've seen the damage heroin has done to people I know.this is a problem,it must be addressed...what woke me up to how bad it is is a number I heard ....over 60,000 Americans a year die of these overdoses....that's more than most wars...it's a black eye fer our great nation...legalize weed

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  • Kathy
    08/03/2017
    ···

    We've had a drug problem in this country since the 60's. It's to bad that instead of addressing the problem then Richard Nixon started a War on Drugs. Drug addiction should have always been to treat the addiction rather then locking people up. The amount of money spend on keeping people locked up would solve a lot of the issues we face today. Instead in this country we have made prison an industry, spend billions of dollars. We need to have a conversation in this country why we are willing to lock people up, without a rehabilitate and reentry programs so it's not a revolving door. We have private prisons who make their money through having full capacity and prisoners making products for private businesses. Goggle all the companies who having their products made in prisons. Why would companies want to hire employees and pay a living wage when they can have products made in prisons for between 16 to 93 cents an hour! We need to address both legal and illegal drugs together. This country have way more legal drug user than illegal drug users, that are hurting this country.

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  • Daniel
    08/03/2017
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    Legalize marijuana! Decreased opiate usage in states that have and will create incredible revenue.

    Like (4)
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  • Kim
    08/03/2017
    ···

    Please put some serious support behind remedying the opioid crisis. Our rural areas are being consumed by this tragedy, and soon our bigger cities.

    Like (3)
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  • Latricia
    08/02/2017
    ···

    I support the recommendations, listed below, of the bipartisan commission tasked with addressing the drug addiction and opioid crisis in our country. Grant waivers allowing for Medicaid to expand treatment coverage in all 50 states. Mandate prescriber education initiatives Remove barriers to expanded use of existing Medication-Assisted Treatments (MATs) and instruct the National Institutes of Health to focus research on developing new MATs as well as non-opioid pain treatments. Introduce legislation to expand the availability of naloxone, an emergency, overdose prevention medication and equip all law enforcement personnel with the means to administer it. Focus border security resources on the current influx of fentanyl: a synthetic opioid twice as strong as heroin that is flooding the market. Require data sharing between state and federal prescription drug monitoring programs, which track individual users and allow for identification of prescribers engaging in dangerous patterns of over prescription. Adjust patient privacy laws to allow for communication between providers in the case of substance abuse. Enforce existing law that forces insurers to provide equal coverage for both physical and mental health/substance abuse diagnoses.

    Like (3)
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  • Laura
    08/03/2017
    ···

    The opioid problem is big pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies causing an epidemic of an addictive supply and demand. Regulate big pharma and insurance companies dictating the available drugs to individuals addicted to the opioids.

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  • Fred
    08/02/2017
    ···

    I agree that we need more drug counseling available and communication between doctors. Marijuana is pain killer that is much more tame and has many other uses. Let's legalize pot and have more communication about opioids.

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  • Reagan
    08/03/2017
    ···

    Funny how they're declaring this a "national health emergency", but when the CIA brought crack into the black community they called for a "war on drugs", which still goes on today. I say we take some of these same regulations and change the laws towards crack and marijuana. It might help bring down some of this mass incarceration going on. Oh, but I forgot, the private prison industry is just too darn profitable... In that case forget everything I just said.

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  • Poodle
    08/02/2017
    ···

    Opioids should be restricted to centralized pharmacies in all cities.... only severe cases of pain should be cause for prescriptions... some Dr's are responsible for lax prescribing Drug company lobby's are too powerful. It's all about the money.... more treatment availability necessary.....

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  • BeStrong
    08/03/2017
    ···

    No physician should prescribe opioids for an extended period. Big pharma and physicians must be held accountable. Street drug availability is as much a part of the equation. Perhaps Mr Sessions might consider shifting his ridiculous focus on marijuana over to the opioids/heroine market👍

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  • Frank
    08/03/2017
    ···

    You can't legislate your way out of this. Hold those responsible, responsible not the clients or the Dr. whose hands are being burdened with excessive paperwork that is preventing many Dr. from joining the suboxone program and Dr. stopped from helping due to shoddy lab results from high dollar urine screens that cost Medicare billions to identify metabolites that can be 30,60 90 days old and can be anywhere from 5 to 10 % false positives plus do not address the current anything in real time. If you're being treated for the pain you're treated like a drug addict instead of a client dependant on pain medication. Subxone (Buprenorphine) regardless of what anyone says you do not get high off it even a person that never took it before. They may feel an injection of .02ng but not 8MG. sublingual tab. the current form given. As far as diversion where is that evident? It isn't the pain clients that started this opioid crisis we do not make the pills or dispense them and we should not be held to account for another's poor behavior by subjecting us to onerous procedures from cash only doctors. To top it all off it is us paying for this debauchery. We are paying to be abused and victimized just to gain some momentary relief. We are paying doctors to become our jailers throwing out all HEPPA regulation because we as a class of individuals in chronic progressive pain are being blamed for Dr. giving drugs to those for profit.

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  • Leslie
    08/03/2017
    ···

    Legalization of marijuana, not the pharmaceutical substitute, but actual marijuana grown by American farmers and sold in dispensaries as an alternative pain medication. Encourages preventive care instead of bandaid pain medications do actual healing is preformed. And, on a side note, how about changing campaign finance, I heard an insurance CEO bemoaning the amount of money they donated to campaigns. If insurance companies can afford to donate millions for reelection campaigns why don't they use that money to reduce cost of insurance. Make the campaigns run on a specific amount of money only, no outside financial support allowed.

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