Addiction to opioids has increased over the last two decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids killed over 42,000 people in 2016. About 40% of opioid-related deaths are due to prescription opioids.
The President’s Plan for Fighting Opioid Addiction
President Trump’s plan includes a wide range of reforms, including:
- Drug education: The administration says it will launch a public awareness campaign. The program will highlight the risks of prescription and illicit opioids. The government also plans to fund research on non-addictive pain management.
- Reducing the supply of illicit drugs: President Trump says he will keep illicit opioids out of the United States by securing the borders. He plans to cooperate with China and Mexico to reduce drug supplies. The U.S. government will require electronic data on 90% of international mail shipments.
- Increasing the severity of penalties: The Department of Justice (DOJ) will pursue the death penalty against drug traffickers. It also plans to seize assets related to illegal opioid sales. The president will ask Congress to lower the threshold for mandatory minimum sentences.
- A task force to fight opioid addiction: A DOJ task force plans to deploy legal action against negligent drug providers. These may include distributors, pharmacies, and doctors.
- Safer Prescribing Plan: President Trump seeks to reduce the overuse of prescription opioids. Within five years, all federal health care providers will be expected to adopt best practices for opioid prescribing.
- Evidence-based treatment: The government plans to expand access to evidence-based treatment. This plan includes Medicaid reimbursement for inpatient drug treatment. Federal prisons may screen incoming inmates for opioid addiction.
Will the Plan Work?
The president has not been specific about how some of the plan’s mandates will be funded. The initiative includes a combination of administrative changes and proposed legislation. There is no guarantee every proposal will be enacted.
Research by the CDC supports some of the president’s proposals. In 2016, the CDC issued guidelines on treating chronic pain with opioids. The CDC urges providers to use opioids only after trying non-drug therapies or non-opioid painkillers. If opioids are necessary, the CDC says doctors should start with the lowest dose possible.
The American Psychological Association (APA) offered a mixed response to the plan. “While we are encouraged that the administration is calling much-needed attention to the opioid epidemic in America, President Trump’s focus on prosecution and punishment, all the way to the death penalty for some traffickers, is ill-advised and extreme,” said APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr.
“We urge the administration and Congress to focus instead on expanding access to nonpharmacological pain management treatments to prevent opioid addiction, and on extending evidence-based treatment and recovery support services to those dealing with an addiction.”
- APA gives mixed review to president’s opioid plan. (2018, March 20). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2018/03/opioid-plan.aspx
- CDC guideline for prescribing opioids for chronic pain—United States, 2016. (2016, March 18). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6501e1.htm
- Opioid overdose. (n.d.) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/index.html
- President Donald J. Trump’s initiative to stop opioid abuse and reduce drug supply and demand. (2018, March 19). Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trumps-initiative-stop-opioid-abuse-reduce-drug-supply-demand
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