National Efforts to Combat Opioid Epidemic Must Include Funding, Focus on Medical Treatment

National Mall
National Mall

WASHINGTON — October 26, 2017 Today, President Donald Trump elevated the federal response to the opioid addiction crisis by finally declaring it a public health emergency — but without opening up any new federal funding to combat the epidemic. The National League of Cities (NLC) has worked with federal, state and local officials across the country to help stem the tide of opioid abuse, which claims 91 lives every day. In response to today’s White House announcement, National League of Cities (NLC) CEO and Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony issued the following statement:

“We are disappointed that President took two months to act after acknowledging the opioid epidemic is one of the most serious public health crisis of a generation, but we are hopeful that today’s declaration is finally a sign of positive momentum. We have long believed that the increasing number of people addicted to heroin, painkillers and other opioid derivatives has warranted the declaration of a national emergency.

“We urge the administration to commit additional treatment resources to communities combatting the opioid epidemic and provide local governments with the tools needed to combat this crisis. As the first responders on the frontlines of this crisis, local leaders, law enforcement officers and medical providers know that you can’t arrest your way out of addiction.

“We welcome opportunities to collaborate with the federal government to make sure next steps in combatting this crisis focus on medical treatment over criminal punishment. Ultimately, true progress will only come if federal, state and local governments work together. Today’s announcement should be an opportunity for the federal government to open a dialogue with local leaders who on the ground tackling these challenges.”

Last year the National League of Cities (NLC) and the National Association of Counties (NACo) convened the National City-County Task Force Addressing Heroin and Opioid Abuse to develop strategies and suggestions for combatting the opioid crisis. The results and findings of their efforts were compiled into a report, A Prescription for Action, released last December. You can find more about local efforts to combat the crisis at opioidaction.org.

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The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans. www.nlc.org

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