President Donald Trump made combating America’s opioid addiction and prescription painkiller epidemic a major plank of his 2016 campaign. He’s now being urged to declare a nation-wide “state of emergency” over the issue by a White House commission, as part of a wide-ranging list of recommendations which also encourages easier access to heroin antidotes and mental health treatment.
The White House opioid group laid out the dire stakes early on in an interim report released Monday. “With approximately 142 Americans dying every day, America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks,” said the report. The group is made up of addiction experts and governors from states hard-hit by the crisis, such as New Jersey’s Chris Christie and Massachusetts’ Charlie Baker.
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The commission’s interim report attempts to address some of the most pressing problems surrounding the opioid epidemic. For instance, it encourages “model” federal legislation that would prop up the widespread and automatic adoption of “naloxone,” an opioid overdose antidote that an increasing number of police forces have adopted.
The interim report also encourages bigger crackdowns on particularly deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl and greater parity between physical and mental health treatment—particularly for addicts.
But some states disproportionately affected by the opioid epidemic have already declared states of emergency. Ultimately, these recommendations will depend on the White House’s and Congress’ desire to fund them.