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As Drug Overdoses Hit Record High, Trump Offers Little on Opioid Policy

10 August, 2017, 00:14 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • An estimated 2.4 million individuals in the US are currently experiencing problematic opioid use

President Donald Trump on Tuesday promised to increase law enforcement and strengthen border security to "beat this frightful situation" of drug abuse across the country, but he did not declare a national public health emergency as Gov. Chris Christie suggested and he made no mention of the governor's work on a commission the president created to address rampant heroin and opioid use.

President Donald Trump vowed Tuesday that the US would "win" the battle against the heroin and opioid plague, but he stopped short of declaring a national emergency as his handpicked commission had recommended.

Experts have said that declaring a national emergency could help free up federal funding for states dealing with an overdose crisis that, the commission said, kills 142 Americans a day, though some advocates anxious the Trump administration would have used the declaration to return to policies similar to the war on drugs. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said Tuesday that such a declaration is usually reserved for "time-limited" problems such as the Zika outbreak.

Trump has never proven himself able to discuss health care policy in any detail - it's unclear if he even understands how health insurance works.

Trump has made it clear over the first six months of his presidency that the victims of this epidemic aren't almost as important to him as fighting the bad hombres he says are bringing drugs to the U.S. And less than two weeks into his presidency, Trump told Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull that New Hampshire was a "drug-infested den".

"Opioid overdose deaths have almost quadrupled since 1999, it is a problem the likes of which we have not seen", Trump said at a news conference. Both would have undercut Americans' ability to seek treatment for opioid addiction.

So what is Trump saying now?

Trump has also asserted that his proposal border wall would stop the flow of drugs into the country from Mexico. The rate was 18.5 overdose deaths per 100,000 people for the 12-month period ending in September 2016, compared with 16.1 deaths per 100,000 during the same period a year before, the NCHS said.




Sharfstein said he likes some of the plans by other states to encourage doctors to cut back on the prescriptions they are writing for patients for opioids.

In his remarks Tuesday, Trump noted that the best way to prevent addiction and overdoses is to keep people away from drugs in the first place.

According to NBC News, Dr Christopher Ruhm examined death certificates from 2008 to 2014 and found that the opioid mortality rate was 24 percent higher and the heroin mortality rate was 22 percent higher than previously reported.

Fighting the opioid epidemic was a campaign promise of President Trump and today, he is speaking out calling this a "tremendous problem" but he isn't declaring a national emergency yet. "We're not letting it go by..."

Activists have called on the Trump Administration to finally do more to combat the crisis.

An emergency designation for the opioid crisis is broadly supported by public health experts, who argue more money is necessary to tackle an epidemic that killed more than 30,000 Americans in 2015.

"It really is time to look at this as a public health issue", Mr. Benitez said.

"People continue to die every day from this awful epidemic, so it is absolutely essential that we all continue to work together to combat it at every level", Hassan said.

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