Earlier this year, President Trump created the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was assigned to chair the commission. Their task was to identify “steps lawmakers and federal officials can take to combat and treat drug abuse, addiction and the opioid epidemic.”
One of their first recommendations to President Trump was to declare the opioid crisis a national disaster.
In October, the President declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency.
Next, the committee set out to advise the President and the rest of the federal government on how the country can recover from this disaster.
Trump’s Commission Issues Their Recommendations
The committee released a list of more than 50 items they believe will help the Trump administration combat this deadly epidemic. Their suggestions included:
- Training: Doctors should receive further training on painkiller prescriptions.
- Databases: Policies should mandate the use of databases that inform prescribers and pharmacies of a patient’s other opiate prescriptions.
- Fentanyl: Law enforcement agencies should focus their efforts on targeting illegal manufacturers and dealers of fentanyl.
- Insurance: Insurance should pay for substance abuse treatment.
- Drug courts: The judicial system should create more drug courts, which offer treatment alternatives to jail time.
- Campaign: The administration should back a mass media campaign to reach children with the message not to use drugs.
- Research: The government should fund additional research into treatments for chronic pain and substance abuse.
- State grants: Congress should create block grants which states can use for addiction prevention and treatment.
- Residences: Government agencies should develop standards and best practices for recovery residences.
- Professionals: Policies should increase the number of treatment professionals by expanding the use of recovery coaches and prioritizing addiction treatment in all health disciplines.
What’s the Price Tag?
The commission didn’t put a total on the amount of money which would be required to follow through on their recommendations. Committee member Patrick Kennedy admitted, “To implement the recommendations that we’ll offer, it will require hundreds of billions of dollars.”
With so many other national issues competing for funding, will the opioid crisis get the financial attention it needs? That remains to be seen. It’s unlikely the federal purse is big enough to provide the hundreds of billions Kennedy alluded to in his comment. But, perhaps the administration will allocate enough funds to put some of the committee’s top ideas into practice?
Will These Efforts Work?
The next important questions are: Has the commission recommended good ideas? Are their 56 items realistic suggestions? Will we see a reduction in addiction and overdoses as these new policies attempt to turn the tide on the opioid epidemic?
We may or may not get to find out. The first hurdle is for the Trump administration to accept the committee’s advice and implement the recommendations. Stay tuned.
Additional Reading: AG Sessions – Creating a Culture Hostile on Drug Abuse
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