HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Opioid Crisis Outlook Grows More Bleak
Pubdate: Tue, 21 Nov 2017
Source: Herald News (West Paterson, NJ)
Copyright: 2017 North Jersey Media Group Inc.


In this divided nation, we should be able to at least find common
cause in the fight to stop and treat opioid addiction, a scourge that
knows no single identity, and that does not respect geographic
boundaries or common socio-economic factors. This is a fight we must
all take up, arm in arm, because in one way or another it affects all

Indeed, the more we know about this menace to our national health, the
worse it seems. According to a new analysis released by the Trump
White House, the opioid addiction crisis may already be much worse
than previously thought. According to the White House Council of
Economic Advisers, the true cost of the crisis, as of 2015, stands at
$504 billion, a figure more than six times the most recent estimate.

The council said that a 2016 private study estimated that prescription
opioid overdose, abuse and dependence in the U.S. cost $78.5 billion
in 2013. But the council said its estimate is so much higher because
the epidemic has worsened with overdose deaths doubling in the past
decade, and that some previous studies didn't reflect the number of
fatalities blamed on opioids.

"Previous estimates of the economic cost of the opioid crisis greatly
underestimate it be undervaluing the most important component of the
loss -- fatalities resulting from overdoses," the report said.

Much of the emphasis in regard to fighting opioids, a powerful,
addictive category of painkillers, has centered on the pharmaceutical
end, and some physicians' dangerous protocols, in the past, of
overprescribing painkillers, in regard, say, to sports injuries or
other ailments. Gov. Chris Christie has made attacking the
prescription issue one a hallmark of his campaign against addiction.

Yet reporting by The Record over the last decade has shown clearly
that the prescription issue is just part of the problem. There are, we
well know, heroin mills still running in places like Paterson, and
those operations claim lives in the streets of the state's
third-largest city just as they claim lives of children and adults
from its wealthier suburbs. Other reports in national news outlets
have reported on the devastating effects of opioid abuse and addiction
in big cities as well as in more rural areas, like West Virginia and

This analysis from the White House council paints a picture much
bleaker than before, and not at all surprising. Last month President
Trump declared opioid misuse a national public health emergency, and
announced a new advertising campaign against it, but failed to
identify any new federal funding toward the effort. Christie, who has
been on the front lines of this fight, praised Trump for moving to
limit the flow of fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid from China,
and for saying he would require federal employed prescribers to
receive special training on opioids.

That is all well and good, but it is not enough. More than 64,000
Americans died from drug overdoses last year.

The time for talk is over; it is time for action. This crisis has
ballooned into a bona fide national emergency, and requires the
marshaling of federal resources -- perhaps into the several billions
of dollars -- to properly confront and contain it.
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