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Opioid Users Are Building a Movement for Public Health Solutions to the Epidemic


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The opioid drug widespread is the largest open health predicament confronting the country right now, taking the lives of 64,000 people in the U.S. last year. Each day, 90 Americans overdose on painkillers like Oxycontin and Percocet, heroin, and fake opioids like fentanyl. Overdose is now the leading means of death for Americans under 50.

Although President Trump announced the opioid drug widespread a open health emergency last month, the supervision needs to deposit tens of billions of dollars to residence a inhabitant predicament of this scale. Perhaps predictably, Trump’s toothless stipulation was not accompanied by any additional funds.

Trump’s plans to tummy defund Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act mount at contingency with a vicious try to fight the epidemic, which has ravaged states in the Northeast and Midwest. As the largest provider of opioid obsession diagnosis and overdose prevention, Medicaid plays a vicious role that has grown even incomparable given thoroughfare of the ACA. In the 31 states that expanded Medicaid coverage, 1.2 million people with opioid obsession gained entrance to health care.

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In further to not allocating any new appropriation to the open health emergency and attempting to tummy affordable healthcare, Trump has appointed cronies like Chris Christie to conduct his opioid elect and Newt Gingrich as a paid advocate. When he first took office, Trump tasked his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, with elucidate the opioid predicament as partial of an absurdly extended portfolio. In new months, however, the scope of Kushner’s responsibilities appear to have narrowed.

With these antics, Trump risks minimizing the grave inhabitant impact of the widespread while aggrandizing the role of law coercion in fighting the problem. Over the summer, he told reporters, “Strong law coercion is positively critical to having a drug-free society. I’m assured that by operative with the health caring and law coercion efforts we will fight this lethal widespread and the United States will win.”

It is wholly reasonable to fear that Trump, instead of relying on medical providers and open health experts to offer evidence-based solutions, will listen to narrow-minded advisers charity strongman solutions like increasing policing, a ramped-up fight against drug cartels, or so-called mandatory treatment, which in some cases is unpaid tough labor.

Already, the U.S. spends $100 billion a year on policing and another $80 billion on incarceration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has signaled his intention to restart the fight on drugs and double down on incarceration.

Even deadlier than the AIDS widespread at its peak, the opioid crisis costs the U.S. scarcely $80 billion a year, which includes costs from health care, lost productivity, obsession treatment, and rapist probity involvement. The opioid emergency needs genuine solutions and the appropriation for them, not half-measures and showboating.

This is because opioid users and their allies have launched the Opioid Network, a diverse, multiracial bloc of health caring providers, drug users, village organizing groups and families from around the country. Many members are first-time activists, like Don LoGuidice from Ohio who lost a son to an overdose, or longtime drug user Brian Jablonski from Indiana.

We are holding the summary to Washington and job on Congress to recover $45 billion in appropriation for opioid treatment, to strengthen Medicaid and pass the Alexander-Murray check to stabilise the health caring complement so that obsession diagnosis is safe, affordable and accessible.

Convened and upheld by the Center for Popular Democracy, the bloc includes affiliates in Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Vermont, along with Doctors Allied for Indian Health and VOCAL-NY, which emerged from the AIDS predicament and fought for appropriation for HIV and AIDS.

Over the summer, many of us put the bodies on the line to urge the Affordable Care Act. Now we devise to use the same strategy to vigour Congress to fund genuine solutions to the opioid crisis. We will flood the streets, hold city halls and make the voices heard.

Federal appropriation is essential for bringing protected injection facilities, now underground, above belligerent and staffing them with lerned medical professionals, decriminalizing syringes and expanding syringe sell programs, and making overdose antidotes like naloxone widely permitted but a doctor’s prescription.

Setting the bullion customary for what a approach movement campaign can achieve, ACT UP won an whole new stream of appropriation for people with HIV/AIDS totaling over $3 billion, eventually branch AIDS into a docile ongoing condition, instead of a deadly one.

This is what we aim to do with the Opioid Network. We will spin up the feverishness on Congress and the Trump administration to safeguard there is a solid stream of appropriation to residence this predicament and that medical experts and drug users have a approach voice in the solution.

The opioid widespread is a open health crisis. To help opioid users, Congress must yield the required appropriation for protected and permitted treatment, and deposit in knowledgeable, lerned medical experts rather than the amateurish recommendation of Trump’s Beltway buddies and a revved-up rapist probity system. Anything reduction would be ineffectual and a rubbish of time and resources.

Jennifer Flynn Walker is executive of mobilization and advocacy at the Center for Popular Democracy.



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