Some states have declared such an emergency. The White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, Chaired by Governor Chris Christy, has recommended the President declare a national emergency. This Commission was created last March and has issued its long delayed preliminary report. It will issue a final report in October.
A declared National Emergency would release federal money states could use to reimburse their Medicare drug related expenses. It would also allow leeway in local responses to the epidemic.
The report recommends expanding treatment of heroin addiction with other medicines such as methadone which reduce the need for heroin. Treatment with methadone is available in only about ten percent of treatment locations. It advocates providing police departments with the medicine and training to treat heroin overdoses.
While this report is a positive step to reducing the large number of deaths from heroin overdoses, there are also over arching developments which are discouraging. One is that the report includes “training” for doctors in treatment of pain. This implies opioid addictions are the result of opioid prescriptions. People in the field say very few opioid addictions result from prescriptions for pain. Inclusion of that recommendation seems to return us to the religious basis of Alcoholics Anonymous, “all drug use is bad, it is a character and spiritual weakness.”
Another discouragement is that despite saying it would do so, no plan has come forward from the Administration to attack this problem. It is an Administration in chaos.