National emergency opioid declaration needs willing partners
President Trump is declaring the opioid crisis a “national emergency,” which puts a proportionate label on the crisis that we believe people in our region would accept as accurate.
The president promised to ramp up government efforts to combat the epidemic.
The problem is certainly one worthy of a multi-pronged attack that starts in our homes and finishes in Washington. After all, the 142 deaths a day from drug overdoses equates to a death toll equal to Sept. 11, 2001, every three weeks.
So the tone is correct and the recognition of the level of seriousness of the problem also is correct.
The problem-solving part is much murkier.
It takes a cutting off of opioid supplies that come across our nation’s borders every day.
It takes heightened discipline by our medical community in the issuance of pain medicine that in many cases initiates the opiate addiction.
It takes strict monitoring by every family to make sure a person in their circle recovering from an injury isn’t falling into the addictive wave of opiates.
It takes preaching and example in every home that warns children – as early as they can understand – of the dead end to their life that illegal drugs represent. Consider, for a moment, the high achievers we watched on the ball fields at the Little League Baseball Complex last week. They carry hopeful futures with them, in baseball and otherwise. Those futures can be destroyed in a moment of indecision with opiates.
To the extent that it can help, the president’s national emergency declaration is welcome. But let’s not lose sight of where the responsibilities for solving this problem lie. The government can’t solve this without a willing attitude from every other portion of our society.