POLICY | Center on Addiction

POLICY

Trump Says Punishment, Fear and Walls Will End the Opioid Epidemic. Will They?

Earlier this week, President Trump visited New Hampshire to release his “Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand.” Here, we break down some of President Trump’s statements and dive into The Buzz archives to share our stance on whether or not his approach will help end this devastating crisis.

Understanding the Difference between Physical Dependence and Addiction

In a recent hearing before Congress, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb spoke about the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic and what his agency is doing to address it. While Dr. Gottlieb is not the first to note the massive scale of this crisis, he did bring up one often-overlooked component of its much-needed solution – distinguishing between an opioid addiction and a physical dependence on opioids. Although frequently conflated, differentiating between these two conditions is essential to break the stigma associated with what has proven to be the most effective form of opioid addiction treatment: medication-assisted treatment (MAT) – a treatment approach that combines the use of medications such as methadone and buprenorphine with behavioral counseling.

Lead Author Discusses New Guide Aimed at States to Help Tackle Opioid Epidemic

Our nation is in dire need of effective strategies to address the opioid epidemic. With this in mind, we published Ending the Opioid Crisis: A Practical Guide for State Policymakers. The goal of this guide is to replace misinformation and stigma with research-based facts and practical, health-based solutions in order to help state policymakers understand how they can implement a public health approach and solve this crisis.

Here, Lindsey Vuolo, JD, MPH, associate director of health law and policy at Center on Addiction, and lead author on this report shares additional thoughts about why this guide matters, what is wrong with a punitive approach and the important role states can play in ending the opioid epidemic.

Will Declaring the Opioid Epidemic a National Emergency Lead to a Public Health Approach or a Return to the War on Drugs?

President Trump indicated that he will declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency in a “major announcement” next week.  While the president called the epidemic a national emergency in August, he has not yet issued a formal declaration, leaving many to wonder: if a national emergency is declared, what type of approach will the president actually take?  Will the president embrace the public health approach outlined in the Surgeon General’s report or revert to a “war on drugs” strategy?  Unfortunately, signals from the president’s administration have been conflicting.

Supporting Addiction Treatment is the Right Thing to Do

As the debate over the Better Care Reconciliation Act continues, there has been a pivotal turn in many politicians’ perspectives on health care – even those who previously opposed Obamacare. There may be one reason to explain this shift: the opioid epidemic. There are many pressing issues concerning health care, including increased costs. But the opioid epidemic, which some experts believe may kill over 90,000 Americans a year in the near future, is by far the most significant. 

Surprising Findings about Addiction in the Workplace

Quest Diagnostics’ annual drug testing data for 2016 revealed the highest rate of positive workforce drug tests in 12 years. Given the persistent opioid epidemic, this may not sound surprising. Except, the data show that the increase in positive drug screens were not attributed to heroin or prescription opioids, where rates remained stable or dropped. Instead, there were increases in positive drug screens for cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamines. Notably, the data reflected that positive drug screens for marijuana were higher than the national average in Colorado and Washington, two states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

 

Better Parity Act Enforcement Needed to Protect People with Addiction

One of the major problems of today’s deadly opioid epidemic and persistent addiction crisis is lack of access to effective treatment. One of the major reasons people are unable to get treatment is the apparent lack of coverage by their health insurance plan. This continues to happen despite the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (Parity Act), a federal law that requires equitable insurance coverage for addiction treatment by most health plans. 

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