- - Tuesday, August 8, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Forty-five years ago, President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy number one” and established a White House special action office to reduce addiction and related deaths. President Trump has called drug abuse a national crisis and signed an executive order establishing the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. According to the commission’s chairman, “to say we have a crisis here is an understatement” and conditions warrant declaration of a state of emergency.

Last year before the presidential election, $485 million was made available to address the health, social and economic consequences of the drug crisis. Mr. Trump is now calling for deep budget cuts affecting the White House Office of National Drug Control and the U.S. Agency for International Development, including its Middle East Regional Cooperation (USAID-MERC) Program, which addresses the drug problem and other issues of concern.

The commission recommends better training for physicians who prescribe opiates; physician-to-patient drug counseling; states using Medicaid funds for treatment; working with the pharmaceutical industry to develop new drugs to treat addiction; data sharing among federal and state agencies to track opiate using patients, and more.

Sadly, drug addiction has a long history of being exploited for political gain and personal profit. Hopefully the Trump administration’s federal budget will be an exception in response to the human suffering involved.

RICHARD ISRALOWITZ

Professor and director

Regional Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Center

Ben Gurion University of the Negev

Beer Sheva, Israel


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