We thank President Trump for addressing our nation’s opioid crisis by releasing his “Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand.” While we are concerned about the disproportionate focus on law enforcement, we are encouraged by the recommendations promoting evidence-based prevention and treatment. We hope that President Trump follows through on these recommendations, emphasizing prevention over the death penalty and scare tactics.
Addressing this crisis is a formidable challenge, but it will be worth the effort. We are losing 116 people each day to drug overdose. This is unacceptable. We know this crisis can be resolved with a comprehensive approach rooted in compassion and science. That starts with accepting that addiction is a disease, and investing in effective prevention and treatment strategies.
Expanding access to evidence-based treatment, including medication, is critical. Only one in 10 people with addiction get the treatment they need. The federal government needs to make a significant financial investment – far greater than any proposal we’ve seen – to make this a reality.
We also have the responsibility to protect our children from developing addiction. Ninety-six percent of people with drug addiction began using before the age of 18. Scare tactics won’t keep kids from using drugs. We must implement evidence-based prevention programs in our schools and communities.
“We owe it to our children to stop addiction before it starts. Our nation must invest in effective prevention strategies to end this vicious cycle of heartbreak and loss,” said Joseph J. Plumeri, Executive Chair of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. “No parent should have to bury a child as I did. Children should be able to lead full lives, free from addiction.”
Parents and loved ones are on the front lines of this battle. We must arm them with the resources they need. Through effective prevention and treatment, we can ensure that future generations don’t relive this nightmare.