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The Opioid Crisis And The Proposed Solutions

Opioid overdose: The leading cause of death for adults under the age of 50.

Opioids are defined as a class of strong painkiller or analgesic drugs that are naturally derived from opium, including heroin and morphine. The intake of said drugs has led to a national opioid epidemic. According to the DEA, or the Drug Reinforcement Administration, “overdose deaths, particularly from prescription drugs and heroin, has reached epidemic levels.”

In 2010, the number of drug overdose related deaths was approximately 16,000. In 2015, an estimated 52,000 Americans died from the result of a drug overdose, and in 2016, those numbers jumped by 19% to 62,000 deaths. Projections as of June 2017 predict that these numbers will just continue to rise.

To quote CDC Director Thomas Frieden, “America is awash in opioids; urgent action is critical.”.

But Republicans in Congress seem completely uninterested in addressing it at all. The Senate did intend to provide $45 billion to help combat the crisis. But if the Affordable Care Act were to be replaced, they would also be taking $800 billion from Medicaid, in which a quarter of funds are used to provide care to millions.

The GOP proposal would have derailed many programs designed to provide intensive care for the mentally ill and those who are addicted to harmful substances. The Affordable Care Act expanded healthcare for millions of middle-class Americans and provided access to care for those struggling with addiction.

Under this proposal, the ACA would have been gutted and any progress made towards ending the opioid crisis would be taking a major leap in the wrong direction. Thankfully, the proposed Senate Health Bill was overturned. We can only hope that the next bill they come up with will be better than the last.

On a smaller yet equally terrifying scale, a city councilman in Ohio has proposed a different approach to putting an end to the epidemic.

Middletown lawmaker Dan Picard is less concerned of those dying at the hands of drug overdose, and more concerned about the amount of money the city is spending on treatment. While these concerns do indeed make sense, the proposed solution is purely inhumane.

Picards’s proposal consists of a “three strikes” plan. Those who overdose one or two times are to perform mandated community service in order to pay off the remainder of their treatment. If said community service is not completed, emergency response will not be sent a third time. In other words, if the sick do not work off the expenses of the emergency response team that assissted them, they will be left to die in the event of another overdose.

Neglect is not what these people need. These addicts need treatment and care. And if the GOP truly is interested in helping stop the opioid crisis, they should be adding to the budget of those fighting addiction, not taking away from it.

This epidemic will only continue to get worse. It’s up to us to ensure that whatever bill is proposed next will be a better aid in digging America out of this hole.

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