About 3 months ago, President Trump declared our nation was facing a public health crisis due to opioid addictions which had taken the lives of 64,000 Americans in 2016. A commission was appointed to evaluate and make recommendations as to what to do about this national crisis.
The commission has met and made over 50 recommendations to our legislators and to the White House for strategies for this epic crisis that has wreaked havoc in our families and communities. Whether we would agree with the recommendations, actions steps are being proposed that will at least shape mitigation of some aspects of this growing social and public health policy.
Some ideas revolve around streamlining funding from the Federal Government, creating easier access to effective treatment, creating drug courts to send drug users to rehabilitation rather than prison, and media campaigns to create more awareness. The list of recommendations are pretty thorough, and some states are actually attempting to solve this problem with their own state-supported programs contextualized to their specific communities.
Of major concern is none of these recommendations have gained any support or traction for implementation.
I recognize it will take hundreds of billions of dollars to have any impact in such a vast problem.
It is a greater concern that it appears current budgets may be cut for such programs, which means this growing problem will become more extensive. Our drug and alcohol addictions programs will be under-funded, healthcare systems will be overloaded, first responders will be called to respond to more overdose incidences, and deaths due to addiction will continue to rise if we do not take immediate action.
As a trauma resource organization
From our perspective at Lakeside as a trauma resource organization, we believe that professionals who deal with opioid addictions should be clear, aware and trained in dealing with the causes of drug addiction (which can be anything from pain management to several layers of trauma). Addictions do not occur in a vacuum, and part of the journey of an addict usually has some trauma-related cause.
Regardless of the cause, it is a chief concern that we have a national public health crisis taking lives and exponentially growing. We have some possible recommendations from an appointed commission that could start to reverse these serious trends. Yet, we have little or no movement to implement a strategy to help those are seriously addicted to opioids.
I think we all have reason to be concerned and suggest we become active in our advocacy for new funding and options for both prevention and treatment for this overwhelming and devastating problem in America.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO
Image source: http://naturalsociety.com/commission-declare-national-emergency-opioid-epidemic-1515/