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Trump declares opioid crisis a ‘national emergency’



President Trump on Thursday took the decision to follow the preliminary recommendations of his drugs Commission and declared the opioid scourge “a national emergency.” He also pledged that his administration would dedicate “a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money” to tackle the deadly epidemic.

Last week, the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie stressed that making such a declaration would give Mr. Trump’s cabinet the power “to take bold steps and would force Congress to focus on funding and empowering the Executive Branch even further to deal with this loss of life.”

Last year, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) calculated that between 2000 and 2015 an estimated 91 U.S. citizens died of an opioid overdose every day while the president’s Commission reported that the daily death toll was now around 140. This represents one “September 11th every three weeks,” the interim report stated. It also pointed out that “drug overdoses now kill more people than gun homicides and car crashes combined.”

By declaring the opioid crisis an emergency, the president will enable the states to quickly access resources from the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF).

The Commission also quoted a previous study which had found that 80 percent of individuals who had become heroin users had done so because they were hooked on prescription opioids in the first place. It therefore concluded that the country’s healthcare system was largely to blame for the current crisis.

In order to tackle this serious issue, the Commission suggested improving the tracking of prescription drugs, improving the availability and access to addiction treatment centers, promoting substance-abuse awareness, and ensuring that law-enforcement officials could promptly provide overdose-reversal drugs such as naloxone (Narcan).

The Commission also used its report to emphasize that no one in the country was exempt from this plague.

“[Declaring the opioid crisis a national emergency] would also awaken every American to this simple fact: if this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will,” the report warned.

There are currently an estimated 2.6 million opioid addicts in the United States alone.

The authors of a study published last October revealed that the prescription opioid epidemic (opioid overdoses, opioid abuse and opioid dependence) cost the country an estimated $78.5 billion although they stressed that the true societal costs of the opioid crisis were hard to measure accurately.

The Commission’s interim report is available on the White House website.

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