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White House Commission Urges President to Declare Opioid Epidemic a National Emergency

August 02, 2017

A White House commission focused on addressing drug addiction released its preliminary report on Monday, including its “most urgent recommendation” – that the president declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency.

According to the report, “with approximately 142 Americans dying every day, America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks.”

The commission, which is led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, urged President Trump to take executive actions that would encourage the cabinet and Congress to address the issue and also, “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.”

The report included eight other recommendations that addressed issues such as prescriber education, expansion of medication-assisted treatment and naloxone availability, and the elimination of barriers to treatment.

“The fact that this crisis is receiving recognition at the federal level is a positive development,” said James O’Dea, PhD, MBA, vice president of operations for the Behavioral Health Network. “We are lucky in a sense because Connecticut has been very progressive in addressing the opioid epidemic, and many of the recommendations from the federal report have already been implemented.”

Gov. Dan Malloy’s recently passed opioid legislation included provisions to address provider education and  an interstate prescription drug monitoring program, both among the recommendations made by the commission. 

Hartford HealthCare has also been at the forefront of addressing the opioid crisis. Over the past two years, the BHN expanded its Medication-Assisted Treatment Close to Home program to eight locations; began offering naloxone education, training and prescriptions to clients and families; and has been instrumental in organizing opioid education for prescribers within HHC and throughout the state

“If this issue is addressed at a federal level, that translates to additional resources,” O’Dea said. “Those resources will go a long ways in supporting the good work that is already being done.

The commission asked the president to declare an emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act.

To read the full report, visit http://bit.ly/2weCCDw. For more information on opioid addiction treatment in the BHN, visit www.matchrecovery.org.