National Emergency to Fight Drug Addiction Not Necessary, Price Says

Casey Dawson
August 10, 2017

The president declined to declare the opioid epidemic, which kills 142 people per day, a national emergency, as the bipartisan Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis urged him to in July.

A commission appointed by President Trump described the death toll from overdoses as "September 11th every three weeks".

"We believe that, at this point, the resources that we need for the focus that we need to bring to bear to the opioid crisis, at this point can be addressed without the declaration of an emergency", Trump said.

Chris Christie, President Donald Trump Tuesday opted against declaring a national emergency in response to the surge in opioid addiction.

Trump has made it clear over the first six months of his presidency that the victims of this epidemic aren't almost as important to him as fighting the bad hombres he says are bringing drugs to the U.S. And less than two weeks into his presidency, Trump told Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull that New Hampshire was a "drug-infested den". "When you have the capacity of Yankee stadium or Dodger stadium dying every single year in this nation, that's a crisis that has to be given incredible attention", he said.

NBC News reported the commission recommended expanding treatment facilities across the United States, equipping police officers with the anti-overdose remedy Naloxone, and educating and equipping doctors on the proper way to prescribe pain medication.

Some had expected Trump to to declare such an emergency after his opioids commission force described this move in recent days as the "first and more urgent recommendation".

Officials from New Hampshire criticized Trump last week after a leaked transcript of a January conversation with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto showed Trump had called the New England state, hard-hit by the opioid epidemic, a "drug-infested den".

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He said the United States has no alternative but to stem spreading opioid use, but announced no new policies to combat the public health crisis that kills more than 100 Americans each day. "If they do start, it's awfully tough to get off", Trump told reporters at the clubhouse at his private golf club in New Jersey.

Making matters slightly worse, Trump's budget plan takes an "ax to mental health and substance abuse treatment programs".

He went on to say, "So, we're going to do our job, we're going to get it going". The president reflected, for example, on preventing addiction by stopping the problem before it starts.

"During my campaign, I promised to fight this battle because as president of the United States my greatest responsibility is to protect the American people and to ensure their safety, especially in some parts of our country, it is awful", Trump told reporters before the event was closed to the press.

Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids - including prescription opioids and heroin - quadrupled, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Public health officials share growing concern about the opiate crisis, which killed 59,000 people a year ago, according to data analysis from the New York Times. It is estimated 33,000 people died from opioid related causes in the 2015.

Gargiulo said resources are lacking for treatment and recovery, as well as for law enforcement efforts. "We still have too many people getting medicine at too high a level and for too long", said CDC acting director Dr. Anne Schuchat in an interview with the Times last month.

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