Just Say No: Efforts to End the Opioid Crisis

On October 26, 2017 President Trump officially declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency under federal law in response to sharp increases in deaths due to overdose and addiction to drugs in recent years. Accompanying this declaration was a memorandum from President Trump for the heads of executive departments and agencies titled “Combatting the National Drug Demand and Opioid Crisis.” The memorandum set forth that:

“It shall be the policy of the United States to use all lawful means to combat the drug demand and opioid crisis currently afflicting our country. Individuals, families, and communities across the United States continue to be devastated by an unprecedented epidemic of drug abuse and overdose, including of prescription opioids, heroin, and illicit synthetic opioids.”

On November 1, 2017, just days after the October 26 declaration of the opioid crisis as a national public health emergency, the President’s Commission on Combating the National Drug and Opioid Crisis submitted their final report. According to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s introductory letter at the beginning of the report, more than 175 American lives are lost daily to drug overdose. This puts drug overdose and addiction as the leading cause of unintentional death in the United States, and certainly constitutes a national public health emergency.

In response to this crisis of addiction and overdose, the report offers recommendations to promote prevention of drug use, develop education campaigns, and to reduce the overall supply of drugs. It emphasizes finding alternatives to opioids for the purpose of pain management, as well as changing treatment services and improving accountability measures, and concludes with urges for further research.

The findings and research are result of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, established March 29, 2017 by President Trump in Executive Order 13784: Establishing the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

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