President Trump has promised “to take action to keep drugs from pouring into our country and to help those who have been so badly affected by them.”
He also noted in a statement, “This is an epidemic that knows no boundaries and shows no mercy, and we will show great compassion and resolve as we work together on this important issue.”
Taking action on his promise, the President recently signed an executive order creating the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis; he assigned New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as commission chair.
Trump Launches Opiate Investigation
The commission is charged with studying “steps lawmakers and federal officials can take to combat and treat drug abuse, addiction and the opioid epidemic.”
Specifically, the commission is designed to:
- Identify existing federal funds to combat substance abuse
- Assess the availability and accessibility of addiction treatment services and overdose reversal
- Report on best practices for substance abuse prevention
- Measure the effectiveness of state prescription drug monitoring programs
- Evaluate existing federal programs regarding prescriptions and illegal opioids and identify ways to prevent and treat chemical dependency
The panel has been given 90 days to issue a report on its findings. They will submit that report to President Trump, along with initial recommendations on how to address substance abuse and the opioid epidemic. The final report of findings and recommendations is due by October 1.
Governor Christie Takes a Stand
Gov. Christie’s history of fighting heroin and prescription drug abuse made him a clear choice for appointment as commission chair – this topic has been central to his administration. Christie recently signed New Jersey legislation that limits first-time opioid prescriptions to a five-day supply and requires state health insurers to cover at least six months of substance abuse treatment.
Christie’s administration also funneled more resources to the state’s drug courts, which provides options for defendants to choose treatment over jail time. The state also saw an expansion of naloxone access under Christie’s guidance, as well as the creation of a program to track how often doctors and pharmacists give out prescription drugs.
The governor has been working with the White House on this issue for several months, most recently to identify the goals and scope of this commission. Christie noted that President Trump, “asked me to help with this and I’m going to. It’s an issue that I care about a lot in New Jersey and for the country, and so the president asked me to do this and I was happy to.”
The Commission’s Ultimate Goal
The hope is for this commission to provide the resources our country so desperately needs to fight this nationwide epidemic. Christie explained, “The opioid initiative is one that’s incredibly important to every family in every corner of this country. What we need to come to grips with is addiction is a disease, and no life is disposable. We can help people by giving them appropriate treatment.”
Additional Reading: Trump and the Future of Addiction Treatment
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