A call for action on the opioid epidemic
Just this past Thursday, October 26, President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency.
According to the National Drug Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 2.6 million are affected by opioid abuse and more than 64,000 died of drug overdoses in 2016. This is not an issue that can be ignored any longer.
Heroin-related deaths have quadrupled since 2000 and doubled in the last decade. More than 80 percent of heroin users have previously been prescribed painkillers.
President Trump stated in his speech about the opioid epidemic, “It’s really really easy to not take them [the opioids], and I think that’s going to end up being our most important thing. Really tough, really big, really great advertising so we get to people before they start.”
This doesn’t help those who are already addicted. It’s kind of like looking at someone who’s choking and lecturing them on how they could have prevented it instead of giving them the Heimlich. It would be good to address the issue at a young age, which we already do. We can’t ignore those who are currently suffering from addiction.
We’ve seen these campaigns fail before, such as Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No campaign, and modern ones such as DARE, the most widespread educational program educating young students to stay away from drugs.
The program essentially brought law enforcement officers into classrooms about once a week informing students of the negative effects of drug and alcohol usage. However, according to Scientific American, researchers found that teenagers who were not put through this program were just as likely to use drugs as those who received this training.
Now, we appreciate the attention that Trump is giving the opioid crisis, but we, editors of The Eagle, wish he was doing more than just give it attention.
We want action. President Trump lost his brother, Fred Jr., to alcoholism, a contributing reason that he doesn’t drink to this day. Therefore, President Trump has a personal connection to this cause.
While he has proposed ideas, he still has only declared it a “public health emergency.” The funds come from the Public Health Emergency Fund, which just has a balance of about $56,000. The federal government estimates the cost of their action to come to about $75 billion annually.
We think the attention that has recently been brought to this epidemic is good, but there needs to be a plan of action taken on this issue. Advertising is a good start, but it’s not enough. This is an issue that can’t be ignored any longer.