Will the Public Health Emergency Solve the Opioid Crisis?


The current administration just declared the opioid addiction and abuse crisis to be a public health emergency in the United States. This means the government, including President Trump, will take extra pains to try and make a change to this current issue. While many people are hailing it as a smart move, others are concerned that declaring the opioid crisis to merely be a public health emergency, rather than a state of emergency, will actually do little in the long run to solve the problem.

The declaration of a public health emergency can do several things, including allocate resources to the resolution of the crisis, address the issue in a more widespread manner, and involve more government branches in the effort to solve the problem. More funding will be allocated to the issue as well, and modifications can be made to specific government health programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The Trump administration also promises to provide telemedicine to rural or isolated areas that do not normally have access to doctors and other healthcare providers.

This is all well and good, but as stated by Addictions.com, many feel the opioid crisis has gone far beyond a mere public health crisis into a state of emergency. It is the belief among government officials and medical practitioners alike that this issue has been severe for some time without much positive change and that this declaration will do little to actually help solve the problem.

The opioid crisis kills over 140 people every day as the result of overdose. Comparatively speaking, this means every three weeks an equal number of people die of opioid overdose as perished in the 9/11 attacks. In addition, the life expectancy of Americans has actually dropped for the first time since 1993 when it took a downturn due to the AIDS epidemic. No matter what, it is difficult to ignore the severity of this crisis, although the U.S. has been doing so for many years.

Much more could be accomplished if the administration would declare a state of emergency rather than a mere public health emergency. While telemedicine and extra healthcare workers would be beneficial, the former option would allow us as a country to treat deep-seeded issues associated with the opioid epidemic, such as the stigma surrounding addiction and the unwillingness to seek medication assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid dependence. Essentially, if we were able to declare a state of emergency in our country today for this serious issue, more positive change would likely begin to occur.

Still, there are many things you can do in order to make a change to your addiction syndrome or to the life of your addicted loved one. Seeking treatment in an inpatient center is often the best way to get the help you need, while asking for assistance from those who love you will allow you to ensure you are not alone during your recovery. After all, admitting you need help is an important early step in opioid addiction recovery.

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