Opioid crisis needs better support

Every day, dire news is reported by major media outlets – death, destruction, suffering. With so much negative news circulating, many people can lose sight of issues that aren’t right in front of them.

In recent years, the opioid epidemic has become an issue that millions of Americans struggle with every single day.

An issue that only recently has become something people are willing to openly discuss.

An issue that results in 116 opioid-related overdose deaths per day, according to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

One hundred and sixteen lives destroyed per day. Their deaths leaving a permanent impact on the friends and families who survived.

For many years, drug addiction was considered a problem that impacted people from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Drug addiction was a problem associated with criminality.

It was a problem that could be ignored, swept under the rug. But opioid addiction presented itself somewhere it cannot be ignored: the thriving, white middle class.

Now, people are willing to discuss addiction because now it has a “friendly” face – your neighbor, your childhood friend, your cousin.

This national epidemic has even affected our campus. In a survey conducted by The Gatepost in the fall of 2017, one-third of students said the opioid crisis had impacted their lives. Clearly, the problem no longer can be written off as an issue for people from low-income neighborhoods.

A New York Times article from April 2018 stated that roughly 2.6 million Americans suffer from opioid addiction. The article also noted that only 10 percent are receiving treatment of some sort.

However, the federal and state governments aren’t doing enough to support citizens struggling with addiction. With 14,000 opioid treatment centers in the United States, according to HHS, the government should be spending more money to expand the treatment centers and provide free services to citizens struggling with addiction.

President Donald Trump has claimed he will be “tough” regarding the crisis that killed more than 42,000 people in 2016. So far, his suggestions have included implementing the death penalty for convicted drug dealers.

So much for an expansion of treatment programs.

With 116 deaths daily, there should be more money spent on treatment, counseling, expansion of current treatment centers and research into the addiction that has been labeled the worst drug addiction epidemic in American history by Trump himself.

The Trump administration budget for fiscal year 2019 includes an increase in funding to combat the opioid crisis in the amount of $10 million. While this seems like an impressive increase, the language surrounding what will be done with that money is extremely vague.

What’s not vague? Trump’s proposal for a military parade that would cost taxpayers upwards of $30 million.

Apparently the 48,000 deaths between September 2016 to September 2017 reported by the CDC isn’t reason enough to implement specific plans to combat the death rate.

Federal and state governments are failing their citizens.

Every day, 116 people lose the chance to ever recover from their drug addiction.

Every day, 116 families lose a loved one.

One can’t help but wonder how high that number will have to climb before the government starts being proactive.

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