On August 10th, President Trump declared that he considered the opioid crisis to be a “national emergency.”
“The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I’m saying officially right now it is an emergency. It’s a national emergency,” Trump reiterated. “We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.”
With such a long history, accumulating largely over the past decade, fixing the opioid epidemic is a challenge.
“There’s no doubt that this shines a brighter light on the epidemic. It remains to be seen how much this will fundamentally change its course,” said Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness. “No one thinks the recovery from this is going to be fast, emergency or not.”
As seen in Hillbilly Elegy, opioid addiction affects the lives of many individuals and their families. Currently, there are an estimated 2.6 million opioid addicts in the United States alone.
Despite President Trump’s declaration nearly a month ago, there has been no formal declaration from the presidential administration.
“The President is considering not just the emergency authorities outlined in the report, but other potential options as well, to ensure we’re doing all that we can to tackle this crisis head on,” a White House spokesperson said. “The President recently instructed his administration to take all appropriate and emergency measures to confront the opioid crisis. Right now these actions are undergoing a legal review.”
The spokesperson then later noted that they will officially declare it as a national emergency, it is just a matter of when that will happen.
Regardless of the White House’s position on the opioid crisis’ declaration as a national emergency, several states have taken matters into their own hands. Six states have declared a state of emergency over the opioid crisis: Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts.
Others are also busy warning college students of the new risk this crisis can potentially have on their lives.
“This is a time when young adults have more access to substances than ever before and have more economic leverage and legal protections,” said Dr. Joseph Lee, medical director for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Youth Continuum in Minnesota.
Young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 are at the highest risk for opioid addiction.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioid abuse has killed more than 30,000 people between 2002 and 2015.
United States citizens are watching closely as to what will come of President Trump’s declaration regarding the opioid crisis. With declared emergencies largely previously addressing situations like natural disasters, it will be interesting to see how and if this declaration can have a substantial impact on improving conditions for the opioid crisis.