It is estimated that 142 people die every day from opioid misuse. That prompted President Trump to form the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis and would like a national emergency declared. Dr. Ally Dering-Anderson is an associate professor with the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Pharmacy and says opioid misuse impacts people from around the country – including the heartland.
Dr. Dering-Anderson says, “Perhaps on a exacting population base, West Virginia, Kentucky and New Mexico may be hit harder but losing one person to substance abuse disorder, especially when it is prescription drugs, it is intolerable so yes, we are being hit.”
If a national emergency is declared, that would give the government the power to respond more aggressively by modifying requirements for health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Dr. Dering-Anderson says that could be a bit misleading as to who is abusing the medication. She says, “I think it is a particular issue for people who have lost their ability to see a brighter future. That may be a case of poverty. That may be a case of existing mental disease, especially depression. I don’t know that if Medicaid or Medicare patients hurt less. That wouldn’t make any sense.”
The Commission’s report includes several recommendations that health experts and drug policy reformers have backed for many years. Several include drug treatment for those receiving Medicaid, developing non-narcotic pain relievers and requiring law enforcement to carry naloxone, a drug that can reverse an opioid overdose.