Recently we noted Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly had urged President Trump to follow through on his promise to declare the ongoing opioid crisis a national emergency and direct federal resources to address the epidemic.
Like Donnelly, we believe this insidious issue constitutes immediate attention. A Democrat, Donnelly called for action and expressed a willingness to work in unison with Republicans to forge a comprehensive approach to the drug dilemma that continues to ravage communities in Indiana and across the country.
President Trump stepped forth and declared the widespread abuse of opioids a national emergency. He vowed to exercise the legal powers of the federal government to combat the crisis.
“The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I am saying, officially, right now, it is an emergency,” Trump announced from New Jersey. “It’s a national emergency.
“We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis. It is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, head of a White House commission examining the crisis, said: “Our citizens are dying. We must act boldly to stop it. The first and most urgent recommendation of this commission is direct and completely within your control. Declare it a national emergency.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of American overdose deaths involving opioids has quadrupled since 1999. From 2000 to 2015, more than 500,000 people died of drug overdoses, with opioids accounting for the majority of those.
Recent efforts to stem the tide are not working.
So, what now? How will this influx of funds be utilized? Will the money come with restrictive strings attached?
Certainly, some must be used to fund vital programs focusing on treatment and recovery. However, the recommendation here is a generous amount to be invested in intensive preventive measures.
We absolutely must alter the mindset and do whatever it takes to convince our youth that dabbling in drugs often results in a torturous trail of tears from which few escape.
Obviously, throwing cash at a conundrum and officially declaring it a crisis will not constitute a swift and foolproof formula for eradicating the epidemic. Donnelly, his colleagues, citizens and community leaders alike must commit to working in unison to unravel this enigmatic issue of drug abuse.
At this point, do we have any other choice?
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