OPINION: The opioid epidemic needs more than “Just say no!”

ABOVE: Derived from Wikimedia (public domain)

Letter to the editor, by Kelly Clark of Medford, NJ

“Just say no!” How many times have we heard that refrain in relation to drug addiction? Too many times and it hasn’t stopped the problem.

People addicted to opioids don’t need messaging, they need treatment. They need to know that their treatment is covered so that they can focus on the hard work of breaking an addiction. Many people get addicted through painkillers initially prescribed by their doctors. Messaging doesn’t fix that either, but teaching our physicians about alternatives, like medical marijuana, would have an impact. Unfortunately, we’re not seeing either thing happening on the ground in our communities. That must change and the sooner the better- we’re losing the lives of our family members, friends, coworkers, and neighbors to this addiction daily.

What we need is education for doctors and treatment for addicts. But Trump is saying that he wants to focus on law enforcement and border walls to solve this crisis. Is building a wall and putting people in jail really going to save the lives of the 115 people lost per day in this epidemic? This is a healthcare epidemic not a law enforcement problem.

Representative Tom MacArthur has been the co-chair of the congressional opioids task force for nearly two years. What people are seeing from this task force is a lot of talk, but there doesn’t appear to be a lot of action. MacArthur must use his position to act with urgency. Get Paul Ryan to bring action-based votes to the house floor. Get congress to vote on appropriations to fund prevention and treatment programs. There is no congressional district in the country that is unaffected by opioids addiction. This is not a partisan topic. It should be a simple thing to pass bills to combat it.

If MacArthur has any influence with Trump, he should be pushing to get nominations to head the Office of Drug Control Policy and the Drug Enforcement Agency. More than a year into this administration and no progressive on appointing people to such important positions in the fight against addiction? This laissez faire attitude towards an emergency situation is shocking at best or criminal at worst.

We need the action and funding from our government to literally save lives. We need a leader – are either Trump or MacArthur up to the challenge?

Editor’s note: The opinions in this letter are the author’s only.

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One comment

  1. The “Just Say No!” movement is so prevalent in today’s society that you had to use a photo from 1985. LOL. It’s not a partisan issue, but I’ll only reference Republicans in my letter. And BTW, it’s President Trump, and Congressman Ryan. Did you accuse former President 0bama of having a “laissez faire” attitude for not having a confirmed head of the DEA during the last three years of his presidency?


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