The first step in overcoming addiction is admitting that we’re powerless overcome the nation’s opioid epidemic, under current conditions. The Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, led by Gov. Chris Christie, issued an interim report on July 31 urging President Donald Trump to issue a State of Emergency over the nation’s opioid crisis. The shocking numbers in the commission’s report illustrate just how deadly common prescription drugs have become.
The commission sounded the alarm on Monday. “Our citizens are dying. We must act boldly to stop it,” wrote the commission in an interim report. “The first and most urgent recommendation of this Commission is direct and completely within your control. Declare a national emergency.”
In 2015, drug overdoses, which were two-thirds opioid-related, killed more Americans than gun-related deaths and motor vehicle incidents combined. In 2016, more Americans died of drug overdoses than died in the entire Vietnam War. Judging by the fact that 142 Americans overdose on prescription drugs every day, the commission said “America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks.”
The White House agreed to “immediately” begin reviewing the report, and acknowledged America’s opioid crisis. Fighting opioid abuse was one of Trump’s key selling points during the 2016 election campaign. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies the problem as an epidemic. Opioid addiction is a powerful force. In Indiana, a man shot and killed his doctor on July 26 after being denied a refill for his opioid prescription, before turning the gun on himself.
One positive step in the war on the opioid epidemic has been the availability of Naloxone, a first-responder drug that revives overdose victims as an opioid antidote. In Chicago, departing inmates are given Naloxone to prevent an immediate drug overdose on their first day out. Other cities including Los Angeles are considering adopting the same protocol. The commission called for equipping all law enforcement with Naloxone. The final report is scheduled for release in October.