The opioid crisis is in full swing in the U.S., and with no relief in sight, President Trump in March of this year signed an Executive Order to establish the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. Chaired by Governor Chris Christie, the opioid commission members include Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has worked with Florida officials to pass key legislation addressing Florida’s opioid epidemic, and Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, who has dedicated his life to improving the lives of people with mental illnesses and addictions. Here are the findings of the White House commission on opioids.
A Systems Approach to the Opioid Crisis
According to the White House opioid commission report, the commission recommends a systems approach to the opioid crisis to address a wide range of issues related to the opioid epidemic. These include the drug supply; societal attitudes toward drug abuse and addiction; risk factors for misusing opioids and other drugs; the factors leading to and the treatment of overdose; and relapse prevention and recovery support.
This systems approach, according to the opioid commission, will require the Federal government to create an “integrated data environment” that promotes the sharing of agency-specific data and publicly available data, which can be viewed from a variety of angles by a number of organizations to best address the complex issues behind the opioid crisis.
Federal Funding and Government Programs
Government funding and programs are essential for stemming the opioid crisis. The opioid commission recommends:
- Uniform block grants for states to allow more resources to be spent on prevention and treatment.
- A coordinated system for tracking federally funded initiatives and increasing accountability to ensure these programs achieve quantifiable goals.
Opioid Addiction Prevention
Preventing opioid abuse is essential for addressing the crisis. Among numerous prevention recommendations made by the opioid commission, some of the most important include:
- Improved screening programs for middle school, high school, and college students to identify at-risk youth.
- Government funding and collaboration with private and non-profit partners to design and implement a far-reaching, multi-media campaign that addresses the dangers of opioid abuse and works to reduce the stigma associated with opioid addiction.
- A national curriculum and standard of care for opioid prescribers, along with a model training program for all prescribers and medical professionals.
- Developing and implementing law enforcement programs that specifically target drug trafficking organizations, including those that operate online.
By stepping up prevention programs and removing barriers to the effective enforcement of trafficking laws, the opioid commission believes that the U.S. will be able to slow the rate of addiction and reduce access to dangerous opioid drugs.
Treatment, Overdose Reversal, and Recovery
The White House commission on opioids makes a large number of recommendations for improving access to overdose reversal, treatment, and recovery services. These include:
- Integrated screening for substance use disorders and universal protocols for treatment referrals.
- Removing barriers to treatment that currently make it difficult for government organizations like the Veterans Administration and Health and Human Services to help individuals access FDA-approved medication-assisted treatment, counseling, and inpatient treatment.
- Establishing federal drug courts in all districts to ensure people with a substance use disorder get the help they need rather than going to prison.
- A massive expansion of the use of recovery coaches and other services that have been shown through research to improve the outcome of treatment.
- Increasing access to treatment on college campuses and in the workplace.
- Increasing the number of medical and mental health professionals–including nurses, psychologists, social workers, and community health workers–who have extensive knowledge of addiction, treatment, and recovery.
- Increase first-responder access to naloxone and naloxone training to reduce opioid overdose deaths.
- Develop quality standards for recovery residences, also known as sober homes and halfway houses.
The opioid commission stresses throughout its report that increasing access to treatment and recovery services and getting non-violent drug offenders into treatment rather than sending them to prison are major research-based focus points for combating the opioid crisis.
Research and Development
The White House opioid commission report stresses the need for more research and development concerning new pain medications, addiction treatment and prevention practices, and opioid vaccines. They recommend fast-tracking the review process for evidence-based technologies that support the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders.
It’s Up to the White House
Now that the White House has the opioid commission’s report, it’s up to the current administration to take the advice of the commission and institute the recommendations. If it does so, the opioid epidemic may well slow to a crawl
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.