“With approximately 142 Americans dying every day,” the report notes, “America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks.”
The commission, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, states that the goals of such a declaration would be to “force Congress to focus on funding” and to “awaken every American to this simple fact: if this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.”
Personally, I am not interested in promoting either political party. I am only interested in promoting dialogue. I am never uncomfortable having the conversation that this opiate/heroin/addiction epidemic and resulting overdose crisis is unquestionably an emergency.
The fact that people are uncomfortable discussing it, is what also keeps us from openly working toward solutions.
The fact that everywhere I go by virtue of the work I do, I find myself pulled aside and told of a crisis of addiction within someone’s family; confirms to me that it's an emergency.
Statistics tell us that overdose deaths are rising by the year and are the leading cause of death among Americans under 50. We are on track in 2017 to pass the death toll from 2015 and 2016 at an alarming rate.
If that's not a call to action, I don't know what is.
Declaring it a national emergency will possibly move us forward into finding solutions in order to at least start to get in front of this epidemic that continues to snowball.
One in seven people are in the grip of addiction, that means statistically there are at least 10-15 people (the affected entourage; family, friends, neighbors, coworkers) impacted by the person struggling, who are desperate for help and hope.
Most of us agree that we have moved beyond arguments of who and what are to blame for how the addiction and overdose crisis started. Instead of standing in the middle of a burning house trying to figure out who to blame the fire on, we need solutions that will at least start pumping the brakes. We urgently need to start putting this fire out.
The bottom line is that this epidemic is wiping out a young generation, this is my son’s generation. But it goes beyond that, it’s sweeping through all ages, families & communities, we are ALL affected. The opioid epidemic is a not an individual emergency, it’s a family emergency, it’s a community emergency on a national level.
Addressing it as a national emergency, as well discussing implementing treatment related health insurance changes and funding, are the critical steps needed.
But we need more than words.
Funds are needed for just for substance treatment, but for family awareness and treatment as the agent of change. It’s a family crisis, impacting communities and sweeping the nation. Declaring a national emergency seems like a great start.
By Annie Highwater
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