Earlier this week, President Trump announced a notably harsher penalty for drug dealers in an effort to combat the opioid crisis: give 'em the death penalty.
The plan is expected to be unveiled on Monday, March 26, 2018 in the state of New Hampshire. While everyone has been hit hard by the opioid crisis, New Hampshire has been one of those unlucky states to have felt the sting especially hard.
Frustrating still in the fight against the epidemic is the fact that Trump has not offered any additional funding beyond the $6 billion two-year program, which is currently making its way through Congress. While the $6 billion is appreciated, and while it may sound like a lot of money, those who work in treatment programs say this number is still not enough to fund what needs to be done to turn the epidemic around and get this country back on track.
One thing advocates were happy to see, however, was Trump's recommendation of a repeal of a law from the 1970s that, in effect, left Medicaid's hands tied. Under this law, Medicaid is unable to pay for patients' care at larger, inpatient facilities. If this law is repealed, that means that more people will be able to receive funding for the treatments they need.
The soon-to-be-unveiled plan consists of three parts: raising awareness, expanding those treatment options that have been proven to work, and slowing the flow of illicit drugs that has been continuously pouring into the country.
While some may be praising the president's harsh stance, others find it controversial due, in part, to the fact that most of the drugs that are wrapped up in this epidemic are not illegal in the least. Heck, even the drugs that started this epidemic – legally prescribed opioids – were not illicit in the slightest. The problem has become the over-prescription of strong opioids like oxycodone and then, once a patient is addicted, his or her doctor decides that it has been long enough and declines to renew the prescription.
Now the problem becomes: a patient who otherwise was doing everything by the book is now addicted to a completely legal substance and cannot get his or her hands on it any longer because their doctor said: "no more." What do you think people in dire straits such as these do? That's right – they turn to the black market.
This is why fatal overdoses from drugs that are illicit, like heroin and fentanyl, have skyrocketed in recent years. These two drugs in particular make up a sizeable number of the nearly 65,000 fatal overdoses the U.S. has seen in the past 5 years, according to the CDC.
65,000 deaths in 5 years. That is an awfully large number of people who may have only had to go to the doctor for back surgery or foot surgery and couldn't cope with the pain, so they were prescribed an opioid, then taken off of it when it was determined they had been on it for too long, and then needed to find some way to feed their fix.