How Declaring a Public Health Emergency Will Combat the Opioid Epidemic

Each day in the United States, over 140 people die of an opioid overdose. This opioid epidemic worsens year by year, and has resulted in more than 59,000 fatalities in 2016 alone. For this reason, President Trump recently declared opioid addiction to be a public health emergency.

Many citizens and policymakers in the United States think this isnt enough, and the opioid epidemic should be declared a national state of emergency. Others disagree, claiming that a public health emergency is more than adequate for the crisis, and presenting two primary arguments against a national state of emergency:

  1. Allocating funds that would usually go towards national disaster relief for opioid crisis intervention would put too much strain on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund, which has already been depleted by several recent major hurricanes that caused profound damage.

 2.Not only will a public health emergency be sufficient for the problem, it will be more effective, because the opioid crisis is too specialized and complicated to be resolved through a national state of emergency. A public health emergency is handled by public health officials, who are better equipped to combat the crisis than the array of different federal departments that would get involved in a national emergency.

So, how does the Trump Administration plan to address the public health emergency of opioid addiction and overdose? They are focusing on three major tactics:

  1. Speeding up the process of hiring healthcare officials. Many more healthcare workers are needed at the Department of Health and Human Services to resolve the opioid epidemic.

2. Offering telemedicine treatment for opiateaddicted individuals in rural or isolated areas where there are limited treatment options. People who are unable to physically visit opioid addiction experts could still receive opiate addiction treatment through telemedicine.

3. Providing grants to workers suffering from opioid addiction. Workers who have difficulty finding employment due to their opioid addiction, or who are otherwise directly affected by opioid addiction, could be offered grants to help them through hard times and ensure adequate treatment.

Four hundred and ninetythree percent more Americans struggle with opioid addiction today than they did in 2010, and yet only a small percentage of these people receive the treatment they need, leaving the rest to suffer, at high risk of a fatal overdose. believes increased access to quality addiction treatment is the most effective way to reduce rates of addiction and overdose. Opioid addiction treatment is best approached through inpatient rehabilitation treatment, which requires patients to live at the treatment facility. Opioids are highly addictive drugs with difficult withdrawal syndromes that frequently lead to relapse. Intensive, 24/7 addiction treatment at an inpatient facility allows for close patient monitoring, careful medication management, and the supervision and structure necessary to successfully make it through the early phase of addiction treatment without using.