Opioid Crisis Declared a National Emergency
The opioid epidemic has taken the nation by storm the past several years, as mortality rates due to overdose continue to skyrocket. On August 10th, 2017, President Donald Trump officially declared the opioid crisis a national emergency, hopefully signaling his commitment to combating the growing problem.
“The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I am saying, officially, right now, it is an emergency. It’s a national emergency.” Trump announced Thursday in New Jersey. “We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis. It is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had.”
This surprise announcement by Trump, the first national emergency declaration of his presidency, was prompted by the alarming increase in drug-related deaths in the United States. Opioid-related deaths have quadrupled since 1999, claiming the lives of 35,000 Americans in 2015 alone. Each day, addiction to heroin and prescription opioids claims the lives of more and more Americans, with seemingly no end in sight.
The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act: Legislation to Help Curb the Opioid Epidemic
With more than 115 Americans dying every day due to an opioid overdose1, new legislation was introduced in November of 2018 to help combat this growing problem. In an effort to curb the dangerous effects of this epidemic, President Trump signed a new bill into law in 2018 that many believed would help curb the crisis.
The legislative package, known as the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, directs funding to federal agencies so they can create more access to addiction treatment. Another goal of the bill is to prevent overprescribing and train more law enforcement officials on intercepting shipments of fentanyl at the borders.
Passing this bill into law was a yearlong effort, but had support from both sides as the crisis affects both red and blue states and both rural and urban communities nationwide. While some opponents said the bill didn’t go far enough in combatting the epidemic and overdose deaths, others saw the bill as a great first step in the fight. In addition, the SUPPORT Act also set out to:
- Increase access to addiction treatment
- Allow those with substance abuse issues to access mental health facilities
- Help recovery centers increase their quality of care
Understanding Where the Opioid Crisis Stands Today
Millions of Americans use prescription opioids every year to manage pain, but unfortunately some of these cases have led to addiction. This reliance has led to the worst drug crisis in U.S. history, which killed more than 48,000 Americans in 2017. Also last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid epidemic a public health crisis.2
While this loss of life is the biggest cost to our country, the CDC estimates the economic burden of prescription opioid misuse is $78.5 billion per year. This amount includes the cost of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment and criminal justice involvement.
The Effects of the Epidemic in Florida
The effects of the drug epidemic continue to be seen in the Tampa Bay area, where this week, Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene of a drug-fueled home invasion. Investigators say the residents of a Clearwater home had to fight off a drug-crazed attacker with a machete, which resulted in his death.
“Much of the problem has stemmed from the increased ease of access for opioids and heroin. Opioids are often over prescribed by doctors and they are easy to get hooked on without even realizing it,” said Templeton. “If you are addicted to harmful substances like painkillers or heroin, or know someone who is, it is vital to seek immediate medical treatment.”
The Next Phase of Addressing the Opioid Crisis
Declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency was a promising step in the right direction, as the declaration allowed for a significant allotment of federal dollars to go towards combating the crisis. More funds can now be directed towards the expansion of treatment facilities, increasing capacity for the many people who seek treatment for substance abuse. Better funding and access to these treatment programs, as well as waiving federal rules that puts restrictions on certain health care providers, can also be addressed by the administration.
Breaking the Cycle of Opioid Addiction
Many hope the SUPPORT Act will play a key role in combatting opioid use, but effort is needed on an individual and community level as well in order to stop this cycle. If you or a loved one is prescribed a prescription opioid, reach out to your health professional if you are worried, or have a history of mental health problems or addiction troubles. Share your concerns and ask about other pain management options.
It is not always easy to spot the signs of a drug addiction, but you may notice behavioral issues in yourself or a friend or family member. Step in and reach out for help if you see any of these changes:
- Taking an opioid in a way that wasn’t prescribed
- Taking them “just in case”
- Severe mood changes
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Saying medication was “lost” and needing a new prescription
- Seeking the same prescription from a different doctor to have a “backup” supply
- Poor decision making
- Putting him/herself or others in danger
Seek Help Immediately from Opioid Addiction
Footprints Beachside Recovery Center contributes to the fight against the prescription painkiller and heroin epidemic by specializing in the treatment of opioid addiction. Our holistic approach includes a multi-disciplinary method that focuses on managing physical withdrawal symptoms, overcoming psychological addiction, and using proven therapies to help return the brain to normal functioning.
Opioids have had devastating effects on the lives of millions of people. With opioid overdose now being a leading cause of death in America, you cannot wait to get help. Contact us right away and learn about Footprints combined traditional and holistic approach to fighting opioid addiction. You will get a personalized treatment plan to overcome your opioid dependency. Don’t wait. Get started on your road to recovery today.
1. Opioid Overdose Crisis. www.drugabuse.gov. (Accessed November 4, 2018).
2. What is the U.S. Opioid Epidemic. www.hhs.gov. (Accessed November 5, 2018).