In October 2017 President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public “health emergency,” but since then there has been no urgency by his administration to address the nationwide problem and wave of overdoses.
Then on Jan. 30, during his State of the Union address, the president dedicated 49 seconds of his 80-minute speech to the epidemic.
During a speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Monday, Trump stated “My take is you have to get really, really tough, really mean with the drug pushers and the drug dealers.”
But that is what the country, collectively, has been doing. It’s not working.
The opioid epidemic must be attacked from all angles, including — and possibly most importantly — treatment.
When Trump mentions “drug pushers” he isn’t referring to the drug companies that bankroll politicians and are making the opioid pain medication, oftentimes leading to addiction.
That’s not to say drug dealers shouldn’t be punished, but addressing the root of the problem, addiction, should be given more attention.
There was no mention of treatment in the president’s last two speeches about the opioid crisis after labeling it an “emergency.”
The president needs to do more. He already has fallen short on addressing the escalating epidemic.
In October, when he called the crisis a “health emergency,” he should have proclaimed a “national emergency,” which would have directed funds toward addressing the issue.
Trump missed the mark again with his recent call to arms to get tough on dealers. There must be governmental support at all levels — local, state and national — to include funds for overdose prevention and public awareness campaigns.
In Franklin County, there are addicts who want help, but they have nowhere to go.
Agencies like the Franklin County Health Department recognize the epidemic is growing, but like other organizations, money is the deciding factor for the types of services they can offer residents.
Currently, there are no inpatient drug rehab facilities located in the county. The closest facilities are in Cuba, Farmington, St. Louis and Columbia.
The president has expressed the desire for a military parade, and there are reports that the Pentagon is exploring possible dates. There are estimates that the parade could cost millions of dollars. That would be a good start to fund a new opioid education and rehabilitation campaign.
We know that funds earmarked for the military can’t easily be utilized for drug prevention. However, the president first told top military brass in January that he desired a parade, tanks and all. It didn’t take long and the Pentagon began exploring the idea.
We think there should be the same level of expedience for a plan to be in place to begin tackling the opioid epidemic.