Treatment centers respond to Trump's pledge to combat opioid abuse

WASHINGTON DC- AUGUST 2  U.S. President Donald Trump makes an announcement on the introduction of the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act in the Roosevelt Room at the White House

Treatment centers respond to Trump's pledge to combat opioid abuse

The Trump administration's top health official backed away from a presidential commission's proposal to declare a national public health emergency to address the opioid crisis.

Along with Price and Conway, others who attended the meeting included First Lady Melania Trump, Price, White House Chief of Staff and General John Kelly, Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, Kirstjen Nielsen with Department of Homeland Security, Andrew Bremberg of the Domestic Policy Council, Reed Cordish, Robert Porter, acting drug czar Richard Baum and Nina Schaefer from Department of Health and Human Services. "If they do start, it's awfully tough to get off", Trump said during a briefing on the opioid epidemic Tuesday at his golf club in New Jersey.

Statistics show the percentage of people in the United States dying of drug overdoses has effectively quadrupled since 1999, and drug overdoses now rank as the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.

One of the main recommendations of the panel is to declare opioid addiction and overdoses a national emergency.

A declaration of emergency would allow the Trump presidency to expedite legislation created to ameliorate the addiction crisis, while simultaneously drawing political attention to the problem.

Keith Humphreys, a Stanford addiction expert, explained that the implications of an emergency declaration in an opioid crisis would also affect state and local jurisdictions. The commission urged the White House to address the problem as a public health issue rather than a criminal one.

He vowed to strengthen America's southern border and focus on law enforcement in response.

The rate of overdose deaths hovered around 19 per 100,000 during the first six months of 2016, compared to just over 16 per 100,000 during the same period in 2015. If they don't start, they won't have a problem.

On CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, the New Jersey governor said that the opioid epidemic is responsible for a "9/11-scale loss of life every three weeks". "I mean, was the commission wrong on this?" a reporter asked.

Speaking to the media, Mr. Price said the commission's report was being "reviewed at all levels" and echoed some of its public health approach: providing resources for "prevention, treatment and recovery" and making the overdose-reversing drug Narcan more available. "We're going to be bring them up and bringing them up rapidly".

An emergency declaration could help free federal money to combat the epidemic and force agencies to do more to confront it, said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of opioid policy research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. In 2014, 2 million Americans were believed to be addicted to prescription painkillers, with Vicodin and Oxycontin among the leading opioids involved in an overdose. "Whether that's something that's analogous to that, I don't know", he said. He feels the opioid crisis is serious enough to justify an emergency declaration from the Trump administration.

"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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