President Trump issued a call for action after his commission on the nation’s opioid addiction crisis reported its policy recommendations.
“We are currently dealing with the worst drug crisis in American history,” Trump declared. “It’s just been so long in the making. Addressing it will require all of our efforts. We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.”
The commission recommends a national public education campaign, additional training for doctors and funding to support special drug courts. It pointed out that a record number of 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016.
Reacting to the report, Trump signed an order declaring that the opioid crisis is now officially a nationwide public health emergency.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that for 2013 alone the total economic burden is estimated to have been $78.5 billion.
Over one third was spent on health care and substance abuse treatment costs ($28.9 billion). About one quarter was public sector health care, rehabilitation, and criminal justice costs. And the problem has grown substantially worse since 2013.
Other research also shows that up to 20% of the nation’s low workforce participation rate can be attributed to opioid abuse (AA, 10-31-17, P. 5).
The President also accused China of flooding the United States with the powerful drug fentanyl, which killed singers Michael Jackson and Prince, drawing denials from that country.
CDC reported that about 20,000 Americans were killed by fentanyl in 2016, overtaking prescription painkillers and heroin for the first time.
Trump came under fire from his critics, who said he needs to shift more federal money to programs battling the epidemic. They note that while his declaration is intended to make money available from the Public Health Emergency Fund, it has only $57,000 left in its coffers at this time.