On Sept. 18, Minnesota Rep. Dave Baker and Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting that he designate America’s current opioid addiction crisis a national public emergency.
Their plea did not generate much news coverage, but the calls for federal action warrant public appreciation.
I work in communities across Minnesota and understand Minnesotans’ struggles. I also understand there are critical steps that need to be taken quickly to save lives.
With partners like the Rural AIDS Action Network, the Steve Rummler HOPE Foundation, and many pharmacies and small town clinics across Minnesota, we are working to educate community members about how to access the life-saving overdose antidote called naloxone.
Education and training
Through public forums, funded in part with money from the University of Minnesota, we have educated more than 1,000 community members about prevention, intervention, and stigma-reducing efforts related to opioid use disorder. Soon we will train community members how to administer naloxone, so they’re equipped to reverse opioid overdoses among their families or friends. I am certain our initial efforts have saved countless lives and that our continued work with communities will save even more.
Unfortunately, as the two legislators noted in their letter, more sustainable solutions are desperately needed. Our work is merely a bandage on a bigger problem, and I agree with their assessment that “Despite Minnesota’s efforts and investments, state and national trends do not look promising.”
Beyond the rising death toll – if that’s not enough to prompt action – new data from the Brookings Institution suggest that opioid prescriptions could account for 20 to 25 percent of the decline in workforce participation. Other reports have shown that the epidemic is draining county budgets and hampering foster care systems and child protection measures.
Injection of funds required
Without a critical injection of funding that could only come from a national state of emergency designation, states like Minnesota – in spite of all of the incredible local efforts – will slowly break under the scourge of addiction.
To echo Rep. Baker, Speaker Daudt and numerous other supportive members of Minnesota’s legislative delegation from both sides of the aisle, we need the president to enact an opioid state of emergency.
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