Official Declaration Of 'Emergency' Status On Substance Abuse Soon To Come

Two months ago, it was announced by President Trump that the opiate epidemic was going to be declared a national emergency. Currently, officials are planning to have this set in motion by next week.

"We are going to have a major announcement, probably next week, on the drug crisis and on the opioid massive problem and I want to get that absolutely right," said Trump

Many people across the country have been upset that this declaration is taking so long. Addiction is no waiting matter and must be addressed immediately. People from all over are struggling with the issue of being ready for treatment, however they have to wait until space is available at the treatment center.

At a rate of 91 deaths per day, 500,000 people have died from drug overdose between 2000 and 2015 according to information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I want to hear in the declaration exactly how much funding the president is going to be putting forth to treat this epidemic," said Dr. Leana Wen, the city health commissioner in Baltimore.

Baltimore has severe issues with drug use of all kinds. In 2015, a citywide order for naloxone was placed to save lives of overdose victims. This is the first city in the country to have such a serious problem.

Unfortunately, their supplies are now running low and their budget for more has been depleted. According to Wen, there are only 10,000 of the overdose reversing medication. He said that they have to ration the remaining doses.

"In the last several months people have died because we have rationed this medication," Wen said.

Once the federal funding is received after the official declaration of emergency, counties and municipalities will then have the resources to purchase the goods they need and fund treatment and prevention operations.

Since so many organizations have been dealing with this situation for so long without federal funding, that have adapted ways to raise funds on their own for this cause. Once the declaration becomes official, the federal funding will just supplement the treatment, education, and prevention services.

The director of addiction services at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health, Aaron Weiner said "We have multiple prongs to our strategy that don't rely on external funding.”

This treatment center has teamed up with Edward-Elmhurst Health system in the Chicago suburbs. In this area during 2016 the death toll from overdoses was 78 which increased 53%.

They have evolved their methods to have a more efficient system moving forward. Linden Oaks has utilized their computer systems to automatically prescribe naloxone to patients who are also prescribed over a certain dosage of opiate medications. They have also decided to offer more educational opportunities for their clinicians so that they can “improve prescribing habits”.

"Any healthcare system can reform prescribing practices, workflows and in-system issues in a relatively budget-neutral way," Weiner said.

When the emergency declaration becomes official, some current rules will change for providers and patients. People with medicaid coverage will have open eligibility to revive treatment without restrictions. Also, HHS would mandate that treatment providers will be able to receive naloxone at a discounted rate, same for MAT drugs such as suboxone and methadone.

Once an overdose victim us brought to an emergency room, they are then treated until stabilized and well enough to make a transition into a substance abuse treatment center.

Weiner believes that even if the declaration was finalized before, that Linden Oaks would still be using their current methods.

"There are additional things that we could do, but we weren't planning on it from the beginning because it wasn't on the table," Weiner said.

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