Federal leaders address nationwide opioid epidemic

  • Thursday, August 24, 2017 1:34pm
  • News

Lawrence “Chip” Muir, Acting Chief of Staff and General Counsel of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W. Va., held a community roundtable Thursday in Charleston, W. Va., to discuss solutions to the ongoing opioid epidemic.

The meeting brought together law enforcement, public health officials, and community stakeholders to hear about the epidemic’s effects on the state and its residents and examine local solutions that could be expanded beyond Charleston, according to a media release from the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Opioids are a class of drugs that include heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available by prescription, such as oxycodone.

King County and city of Seattle leaders have proposed setting up legal drug injection sites, one in Seattle and one somewhere else in the county, that are similar to a site in Vancouver, B.C. The Kent City Council voted 6-1 on Aug. 15 to approve a six-month ban on locating a safe injection site in the city. County voters are slated to consider a measure in February that would ban the injection sites.

“This opioid epidemic has hurt too many families across the country, and that’s especially true here in West Virginia,” said Muir. “I’m glad we had the chance to hear from people who are working to address this crisis here in Charleston and around the state. Local leadership is a critical part of solving the opioid problem, and I’m glad that leaders across the state, including Senator Capito, are working hard to find solutions.”

“This epidemic really is a crisis that touches communities across the country and affects people from all walks of life. Throughout West Virginia we have seen more than our fair share of its devastating consequences,” Capito said at the roundtable. “The Office of National Drug Control Policy is critical to our efforts to combat the opioid crisis in West Virginia and across the country. Today’s visits were an opportunity for Chief Muir to see exactly what West Virginians are facing and why we need the administration’s full commitment to fight this epidemic.”

The ongoing opioid epidemic has devastated communities nationwide. In 2015, more than 33,000 people died from drug overdoses involving opioids, including 629 in West Virginia alone, according to the media release.

The Trump administration is working to address this crisis:

• The president has called for the increasing federal spending on treatment to $10.8 billion.

• In April, the administration released nearly $500 million to the states so they can address the epidemic on the local level, and Trump has requested another $500 million from Congress in his fiscal year 2018 budget.

• The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is writing the president’s first National Drug Control Strategy, which will be released in early 2018.

• Earlier this year, Trump established the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which is working to make sure the federal government is doing all it can to address this crisis. The commission released its draft interim report on July 31 and its final report is due later this year.

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