President Trump is not in a haste to declare a national emergency because of the ongoing opioid crisis in the country, said Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on Tuesday. The decision has come as a surprise to the opioid commission created by Trump that had earlier advised him to declare a national emergency to deal with the situation.
The commission, headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, was convinced that declaring an emergency could save millions of lives lost to opioid abuse every year. “We say to the President, you must declare an emergency,” Christie told CNN last week. Christie wanted to come up with an emergency clause so that people could take the epidemic more seriously and drastic measures could be designed to address the problem.
The President met health officials and members of his administration on Tuesday to take stock of the situation. “The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place,” the President told media at the clubhouse at his private golf club.
“If they don’t start, they won’t have a problem. If they do start, it’s awfully tough to get off. So if we can keep them from going on — and maybe by talking to youth and telling them: ‘No good, really bad for you in every way.’ But if they don’t start, it will never be a problem.”
President committed to tackling the situation
Price said that despite not being keen on declaring an emergency right away, President Trump acknowledged the gravity of the situation, and is looking for other tangible ways to control it. “The president certainly believes that we will treat it as an emergency — and it is an emergency,” Price said. However, Trump will not declare it as a national emergency, he explained.
In fact, tackling the opioid onslaught was one of Trump’s primary promises during the campaign, when he said that he would build a wall along the southern U.S. border to plug the flow of heroin into the country. He had promised of uninterrupted funds flow, establishing recovery programs, and adopting a humanitarian approach toward the epidemic. Interestingly, Trump had won in most counties plagued by drug, alcohol and suicide deaths, as per a study.
Price also said that the situation can be handled without even declaring an emergency in the country, as there were other measures that could be quite helpful in this direction. An emergency is usually a step meant for time-limited problem like the Zika outbreak or problems in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Price said. He is of the opinion that even in the absence of an emergency, which allows the government to obliterate rules in order to empower to take immediate action, the administration can obtain the desired results.
President Trump is well aware of every development undertaken against the mayhem unleashed by the opioid epidemic in the U.S. Price himself is working in tandem with various agencies across the cabinet on strategic prevention, treatment and recovery programs. He also ensured that everyone was aware of his complete commitment to rein in the scourge, Price said.
The bipartisan commission had earlier drawn an analogy between the opioid crisis and the 9/11 terrorist attack, which means that both are inimical to the Americans in equal measures.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of overdose deaths involving opioids has quadrupled since 1999. Over 500,000 people died due to drug overdoses from 2000 to 2015 in the U.S. of which a majority of them were linked to opioids. The commission noted that 142 Americans die every day from drug overdoses.
The commission had also recommended proliferation of treatment programs for people needing substance abuse help. It looked for augmentation of better access to medication-assisted treatment programs and making naloxone more easily available to law enforcement agencies so that first responders could save more and more lives.
Dealing with addiction
Whether there is an emergency declaration or not, the objective is to salvage millions of people with a growing dependence on opioid painkillers. It does not matter whether results are achieved through a proclamation or other corrective programs.
Addiction is a malady silently preying on gullible people who have become dependent on substances. Chronic and severe addiction is always fatal. However, it cannot be a blind alley for someone who has decided to seek treatment. With drug addiction treatment, one can gain sobriety and enjoy an addiction-free life.
San Clemente-based Sovereign Health is among the crème of the crop substance abuse treatment caregivers in the country, offering comprehensive treatment for addiction to its patients seeking addiction help. If you have a loved one grappling with an addiction, call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online for immediate assistance.