While declaring the opioid epidemic a national disaster earlier this week, President Donald Trump said the effects are visible in every part of the world, adding that people in the society – young or old, rich or poor, urban or rural – have been touched by drug addiction.
A report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drug abuse now kills more people than car crashes every year.
Over 91% of Americans die everyday from drugs overdose.
“Beyond the shocking death tolls, the shocking measure of the opioid crisis involves the families ripped apart and for many communities, a generation of lost potential and opportunity,” Trump said. “As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue. It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction.”
“We will overcome addiction in America,” he said.
The CDC recorded West Virginia as the worst hit by opioid epidemic – a total of 41 people out of every 100,000 residents lost their lives to the scourge in 2015. California, the 7th lowest in the country, got 11 percent with the previous rating.
“We’re spared in California,” said Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, a UC San Francisco professor who studies heroin usage, according to The New York Times. “We have the episodic things — the East Coast is the killing fields.”
The president’s declaration on Thursday, however, got mixed reviews from opioid experts.
“The President’s speech was overall short on specifics,” said Paul Hanly, a partner with Simmons Hanly Conroy, which has sued several pharmaceutical companies over aggressive and fraudulent marketing of prescription opium-like painkillers. “There was a vagueness about what he was saying.”
Hanly showed optimism with Mr. Trump’s resolve to prosecute defaulters and take a bold stand against prescribers, including opioid manufacturers.
However, he stressed that a drastic measure must be taken to stall the cash flow from pharmaceutical companies to Congress.
Meanwhile, other critics berated Mr. President’s declaration as a disappointment from his earlier promises.
Andrew Kessler, who runs Slingshot Solutions, a consulting firm that specializes in substance abuse policy, said Trump’s decision should be commended rather than criticized.
In Kessler’s humble opinion, the declaration would fall short of its expectations if there’s no funding to “implement emergency protocols.”
“It’s a first step, but if we’re really serious about this — momentum really has to build from here,” Mr. Kessler said. “We need to be in it for the long haul.”