President’s Commission On Drug Addiction Makes Nine Recommendations To
Address Current Epidemic
Solutions Exist, But Is There The Will To Implement?
brief 10 page preliminary report, the President’s Commission on
Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis has called on the
President to declare a national emergency. The urgency is clear from
facts about the epidemic. It is now killing an estimated 142 Americans
each day---more than car crashes and gun homicides combined, and
equivalent to enduring a death toll equal to September 11th
every three weeks. The New York Times in its report “Short Answers to
Hard Questions About the Opioid Crisis” calls it “the deadliest drug
crisis in American history”.
recommendations call for:
increasing treatment capacity by making a change to the Medicaid
Mandating prescriber education about the proper treatment of pain
a federal incentive to enhance access to medication-assisted treatment
Providing model legislation to states to allow naloxone dispensing via
standing orders to equip law enforcement
with this drug to reverse opioid overdose.
Developing fentanyl detection sensors and disseminate them to law
Enhancing data-sharing between states with prescription drug
it easier for doctors and loved one to share medical information about
patients with drug addictions
health plans cannot impose less favorable benefits for mental health
and substance abuse diagnoses
recommendations are not new and touch on actions that public health
experts and drug policy reformers have been advocating for years,
according to media accounts. The Times emphasizes that there is no
silver bullet that can solve the drug problem and it points out that
halting the opioid epidemic will take a combination of solutions.
According to the paper, “officials want to use state prescription drug
monitoring programs to reduce the supply of prescription opioids that
end up being used recreationally while maintaining adequate access for
current chronic pain patients. More broadly, experts say we need to
improve the way our medical system manages pain… A more holistic
approach to pain treatment would lessen the need for opioids.
treatment side, experts stress the importance of having treatment
readily available for those who are already addicted. Often that means
going to where the people are, not waiting for them to seek out
treatment themselves. And addiction treatment doesn’t just mean
counseling or an inpatient clinic. Studies show the most effective
treatment for opioid addiction often requires medications. In the
meantime, widespread distribution of naloxone — an overdose antidote —
will save lives in acute cases.”
According to the Times, there isn’t agreement about other possible
measures that could help. Public health experts advocate things
like safe injection sites where people could use drugs under medical
supervision, and drug checking services that people could use to test
drugs for fentanyl but many in law enforcement remain reluctant to
adopt such measures.
Times makes the point that the recommendations can only help if they
are adopted. “Of course, these are only recommendations. It’s up to
the president and the various executive agencies to implement them.
Experts know how to attack the problem. It’s just a matter of having
the will to put those policies into practice.”