Follow the evidence to treat opioid addiction






n Friday, just days before President Trump’s declaration of the opioid epidemic as a national public health emergency was due to expire, the acting director of the Department of Health and Human Services renewed it for another 90 days. The declaration sparked little progress in its first 90 days, making it seem like just another symbolic gesture. That’s a shame because the fight against addiction demands real action. With lives hanging in the balance, we urge the Trump administration to use the renewal to take strong steps to stop a vexing problem that affects communities across the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that more than 63,600 people died from drug overdoses in 2016 (the last year with complete statistics); more than two-thirds of those were due to opioids. It was the worst year on record — and even more families lost loved ones to opioids in 2017.

This is tragic because decades of scientific evidence show that addiction is a disease that can be effectively treated, and that proper treatment reduces the risk of overdose, helps people recover and live productive lives, and saves money. This was definitively documented in the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health.

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