Trump urged to declare heroin epidemic a national emergency

A White House commission on the heroin epidemic recommended President Trump declare a national emergency. (MGN)

A White House commission on the heroin epidemic recommended President Trump declare a national emergency.

"142 Americans are dying everyday of drug overdose," said Gov. Chris Christie, R - New Jersey, who is leading the commission. "We have a 9/11 scale loss every three weeks in America so the first recommendation we say to the president is you must declare a national emergency."

Some people affected by the epidemic said they hoped the president would come around to their line of thinking.

"We have a serious health issue here," said Carlene Davis-Dale who has a son battling heroin addiction. "We need to definitely stand up and take notice that it is an epidemic and an emergency."

Davis-Dale's son has struggled with addiction to heroin for five years. He became addicted after being prescribed opiate pain pills after getting his wisdom teeth removed. She's part of a support group for parents with children battling addiction.

State officials said declaring a national emergency could mean more federal funding for things like treatment programs. Davis-Dale said the epidemic isn't a problem Washington can throw money at to hire more treatment workers.

"Who has the experience (to do the job)?" she said. "How many have the experience?"

The commission recommended rapidly increasing treatment capacity, funding more medication-assisted treatment programs and teaching opiate addiction at medical and dental schools. The commission also recommended all law enforcement officers carry the heroin antidote Naloxone.

"It'a not just an emergency for the person who is struggling, it's a family emergency," said Annie Highwater who has a son who struggled with opiate addiction. "It's a community emergency so it's definitely a national emergency. No matter what you blame addiction on or these overdose issues or how to handle it, it's not stopping and it's not even slowing down and it's affecting everyone at this point."

Highwater wrote a book about her family's struggles called "Unhooked". She also started recording a podcast for affected families called "Coming Up for Air".

Senator Sherrod Brown, D - Ohio, said the recommendations have support from both Republicans and Democrats. The White House said, “The opioid crisis is a tragedy that has been harming America’s communities for far too long. The President directed multiple agencies, including the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Department of Health and Human Services, to prioritize this issue. He created the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis to ensure our country’s response to this horrible epidemic is comprehensive and effective. We appreciate the Commission’s hard work on this important interim report. We will immediately begin reviewing its recommendations, and eagerly await its final report.”

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