by Reggie Fullwood
Drug addiction is an extremely powerful force, and America is in the midst of an opioid crisis. The drugs kill some 90 people a day – about the same as car accidents.
The crisis seems to worsen everyday because of the nature of the drugs. We are no longer simply talking about crack cocaine and other cheap illegal drugs – opioids are far more dangerous in many ways.
Research has determined that when opioids act on the brain, they trigger the same processes that give people feelings of pleasure from activities like eating, but they do it far more intensely.
According to the Associated Press, “Opioids also make some brain cells pump out a chemical messenger called dopamine, which encourages more drug use. Over time, that can produce craving that continues even long after someone stops using opioids, which can lead to relapse.”
Two years ago, President Obama traveled to West Virginia, which is the state that is home to the highest rate of heroine overdose deaths in the nation to hear directly from citizens of that state and to announce new policies aimed at attacking the problem.
Here’s what I have learned about all drugs – from opioids like heroine or crack cocaine – they don’t discriminate. Drugs affect black, white, young, old, rich and poor. The affect of this monster tears families apart and consistently devastates communities. And perhaps there is no better case study than any inner-city community in any mid-size to large metropolitan area.
But wait – that’s the assumption that most of us have. But this opioid crisis has become much worse in rural and suburban America. We are dealing with a class of drugs that slowly weaken people’s self-control if taken over time.
Just look at entertainers like Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and many, many others. Whether we are talking about illegal or prescription drugs, the toll is great.
When President Obama announced that his administration would take steps to increase access to drug treatment and expand the training of doctors who prescribe opiate painkillers his efforts were applauded.
Not so much with President Trump whom last month directed the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency. Sounds good right? The problem is that The Donald fell short of fulfilling a promise to declare “a national emergency” on opioids.
Why not declare the national emergency? The answer is as simple as politics – because then it would have triggered the rapid allocation of federal funding to address the issue.
Talk is cheap, but in order to curb this drug crisis money is needed and the efforts that President Obama started need to be expanded.
How serious is this issue? In 2016 some 59,000 people died from opioid overdoses in the United States, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
“The most deadly thing about cocaine is that it separates you from your soul,” said Quincy Jones. Powerful words.
Not only did President Trump not offer any federal funds, he showed us just how out of touch he is with the reality of this drug crisis. During a press conference last month, he said that the government would produce “really tough, really big, really great advertising” aimed at persuading Americans not to start using drugs in the first place.
Really dude! Yet another “I can’t believe that this clown is president” moment.
Over the past decade, there has been a steep increase in the number of heroin overdoses nationwide, with deaths from the drug quadrupling. Experts also say that many who abuse heroin initially used prescription painkillers.
As I said – drugs don’t discriminate. They impact rural and urban America.
President Obama committed to using $133 million in new spending to curb over prescribing increase the amount of overdose data collected and expand access to Naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opiate overdose.
President Trump has yet to make any real financial commitments towards the opioid crisis.
“America is hemorrhaging lives by the day because of the opioid epidemic, but President Trump offered the country a Band-Aid when we need a tourniquet,” said Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts.
“Instead of a commitment to emergency funding for our states and communities, President Trump offered empty words and half-measures.”
Now is not the time for politics, but for real solutions. Mr. Trump please put the federal money where your mouth is.
Signing off from downtown Jacksonville,