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Trump to declare opioid crisis a national emergency

14 August 2017

Experts have questioned how officials will be able to measure the effectiveness of an emergency for the opioid crisis and how they will know when to declare it over, given that the opioid epidemic is expected to remain a public health crisis for years to come.

Drug overdose deaths in 2016 continued to climb in the United States despite ongoing efforts to stem the epidemic, according to the latest government numbers.

Mr. Trump made the announcement before holding a security briefing Thursday at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. "People that are drug traffickers deserve a significant penalty for their crime, they're threatening the health and safety of our citizens".

"When I was growing up they had the LSD, and they had certain generations of drugs", Trump said.

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George's son Zach Ziehm died from an overdose last year, after three years and four months of sobriety. "What it could mean though is Trump and his attorney general Jeff Sessions using the emergency declaration to step up the kind of "strong law enforcement" response to the opioid crisis that Sessions has been pursuing all along", said Smith. But in an emergency, Section 1135 waivers could be granted for opioid addiction treatment, opening up more treatment options for the states.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates drug overdoses were involved in around 52,000 deaths in 2015.

Public Health Nurse Lisa Roberts, with the Portsmouth, Ohio, Health Department, said she believes a national emergency declaration could increase relief for rural areas struggling to keep up with the crisis.

Trump on Tuesday had said he was not declaring a national emergency over the opioid crisis as suggested by the commission.

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The President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis last week issued a preliminary report that called the overdose death rate as September 11 every three weeks and encouraged a national emergency be declared.

Trump's comments are a bit surprising, given that on August 8, HHS Secretary Tom Price belittled the need for declaring it an emergency.

Trump also initially rejected a key recommendation of the White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which is chaired by Gov. Chris Christie.

"An emergency declaration can be used for good but President Trump has given every indication so far he and his administration want to escalate the failed war on drugs", said Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance.

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But even if his administration comes up with a way to accomplish that, it won't resolve the current raging opioid epidemic, which continues to claim about 145 lives every day, about 10 a day in Pennsylvania.