General Blog


How to Handle the Opioid Epidemic

The opioid epidemic is very real. Every three weeks it kills more people than the September 11th terrorist attacks. The epidemic has become such a large threat that the President of the United States has declared it a public health emergency to better move resources to helping curb this growing problem.

However, many people do not feel that this step is enough to truly end this serious health problem. These opponents are actually pushing for the opioid epidemic to be declared a National State of Emergency. To understand why they think this is a good idea, you need to understand the difference between the two and what benefits each delivers.

A public health emergency is declared any time a disease or disorder spreads so quickly or is so deadly that it becomes a serious threat to the health of the general public. These are often declared for things like ebola, zika, and the avian flu. The opioid epidemic has become so widespread that it has currently been declared a public health emergency.

There are several benefits to issuing a public health emergency. These include better access to medical care, increased resources for treatment specialists, and the waiving of certain federal regulations that delay care and prevent a disease from being properly monitored. By declaring the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, these benefits are already being applied, though it is uncertain what effect they are having.

Declaring the opioid epidemic a national state of emergency is quite a bit different. States of emergency are usually reserved for events and situations that put the nation as a whole in some sort of jeopardy. These are usually declared after natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or wide scale riots. This distinction remains in effect for a year and would help the opioid epidemic. Unfortunately, it would also shunt valuable resources from other states of emergency like hurricane relief efforts, current foreign and domestic terrorist acts, and fire relief efforts, all states of emergencies that the United States has declared in the past year.

One argument for declaring the opioid epidemic a state of emergency is that it continues for a year, many who argue on this point may not realize that the 90 day public health emergency and the state of emergency are renewable immediately and indefinitely by the president. In essence, a public health emergency could be renewed every 90 days until the problem is solved.

While there are arguments for and against both declarations, one thing is clear; no matter what distinction it receives help is available in the form of sites such as This resource contains information on both addictions and treatment options as well as ways to find help. Treatment is available through private insurance, public insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. Although the declaration of a public health emergency is in effect now, it does not mean that this president or any other can change it to a state of emergency at a later date. For now, if you need treatment, it is available to you through many different outlets.

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