In a letter dated July 7, 2017, drawing President Trump’s attention towards the deadly opioid abuse crisis ravaging the nation, five former governors of the states of Arkansas, Vermont, Kentucky, Hawaii and Washington, have expressed the pressing need for joint federal and state actions to curb the ever-growing numbers of fatal overdoses from heroin and fentanyl.
Forming a Governors’ Council comprising two Republicans and three Democrats, they said that though the overall percentage of opioid-related fatal overdoses had come down from 29 percent in 2010 to 24 percent in 2015, the opioid crisis in 2017 is more demanding and deadlier.
Despite having policies in place for expanding naloxone access and opioid monitoring programs including more treatment money via the 21st Century Cures Act, the present epidemic has reached alarming proportions, making it imperative to draft newer and more effective federal and state responses to deal with the catastrophe that’s plaguing the country. In their letter to the president, the former governors categorically voiced their concerns about the dangers of lethal fentanyl analogs such as combinations of carfentanil and heroin.
Hailing the earlier approaches taken to tackle the opioid abuse, Steve Beshear, who served as the governor of Kentucky from 2007 to 2015, said that getting rid of the pill mills was a major achievement in arresting the growth of the epidemic in the past. However, with the latest threats in the form of heroin and fentanyl, the federal authorities have a bigger responsibility ahead of them. “This is a problem states cannot solve alone,” reiterated Beshear.
Solutions given by council
In its letter, the Governors’ Council presented the following solutions to arrest the heroin-fentanyl epidemic:
- Curbing the illicit supply of fentanyl: The first suggestion directed at the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) authorities urges them to develop effective and innovative mechanisms to track and seize illicit consignments of fentanyl and synthetic opioids entering the U.S. This could involve close cooperation with Mexico to deal with the menace of cross-border trafficking of heroin, and China on the supply of fentanyl. Additionally, educating first responders on how to handle overdose cases involving carfentanil and other fentanyl analogs would make a great difference in alleviating the crisis.
- Monitoring prescription opioid supplies to check abuse: In addition to imparting training to health care professionals on the lines of the 2016 CDC guidelines on how to prescribe opioids, medical practitioners should understand the nature and science of addiction and best practices to screen, treat and prevent such conditions in future.
- Treating and promoting recovery nationwide: Utilizing Medicaid funding for medication-assisted treatment including other forms of support for individuals recovering from addiction should be given importance. The governors further insist that the budget, which could be slashed by 95 percent by the present government, of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), should be reauthorized and reallocated towards substance abuse treatment.
- Educating Americans to win the war against drugs: Federal authorities should strive to reinforce the idea that substance abuse and addiction are serious public health concerns and not signs of moral weakness or failure. Nevertheless, no stone must be left unturned to eradicate any kind of stigma or misconception about the ongoing opioid epidemic as discussed at the first meeting of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. Furthermore, federal officials should publicly declare their support to ensure unrestricted funds for the syringe services programs to curb infectious diseases among drug users.
Opioid crisis in America
On the one hand coursing along the innumerable interstate highways and crisscrossing the nation in the form of cheap trafficked heroin, on the other hand flowing out of pain management clinics where prescription drugs can be easily procured, the current opioid addiction is one of America’s deadliest epidemics affecting all 50 states alike. The nonmedical use of addictive opioids has resulted in a huge spike in the number of overdoses and resulting fatalities. Researches indicate that opioid overdoses are happening not only along the borders and crime-ridden alleyways, but also in every nook and cranny of concrete high-rises and bustling metropolises.
Studies reveal that despite strict law enforcement in place, cross-border heroin trafficking continues to be at a national all-time high with Mexican drug trafficking organizations being the major suppliers of deadly substances into American territory. Reports suggest that from 2010 to 2015, heroin seizures across the Southwest border increased twofold from 1,016 kg to 2,524 kg.
Nevertheless, experts believe this trend mirrors the spike in seizures nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, more than six out of 10 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. involve an opioid. In fact, from 2000 to 2015 more than half a million Americans have succumbed to a fatal drug overdose and currently the nation witnesses the death of 91 Americans every day from an opioid overdose including prescription opioids and heroin.
In the wake of the current crisis, there is no doubt that severing off the source of drugs would certainly alleviate the crisis, but law enforcement authorities also need to review present federal strategies on drug control, trans-border crime and drug trafficking in order to nip the menace in the bud.
Leading a drug-free life
Regrettably, more and more vulnerable individuals are getting trapped in the cycle of addiction. The sole option to break free from the clutches of harmful substances is to seek professional treatment for addiction to opioids at a reputed drug addiction rehabilitation center to reverse the devastating effects of deadly drugs.
Sovereign Health understands the plight of someone who is unable to discontinue the use of harmful substances despite the negative impact on his or her life. The customized addiction treatment services at Sovereign Health of San Clemente are designed to treat the person holistically. If you or your loved one is battling an addiction to any drug, call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online to know about the most effective drug addiction programs at our state-of-the-art centers spread across the U.S.