The US President Donald Trump leaves no opportunity to announce for building of the wall on the Mexican border. He believes that this will stop drugs, as well as the undocumented immigrants, from entering the country. Besides his fight against Opioids, he has also approved rougher criminal sanctions for drug traffickers, including the death penalty for major crimes.
However, none of the Trump’s strategies are likely to make much difference to the epidemic that claimed 64,000 lives due to overdoses in 2017. This is because of the lacking efforts to deal with the urgent need to fight against substance abuse, that is, expanding and repairing a treatment network which is severely underfunded, disintegrated and completely overwhelmed.
In a situation of extensive anguish and hand-wringing about addiction, neither the President, nor Congress, journalists, or governors are paying much attention to one thing that could make a difference in real terms– more and better treatment.
According to a report by the Surgeon General, only 1 out of 10 people who required drug and alcohol treatment could get it. In West Virginia, which recorded highest rate of overdose deaths, there are just 171 beds for detox, and 151 for long-term residential treatment.
Dr James Berry, the Director of the addictions program at the West Virginia University School of Medicine in Morgantown, informs that hospital emergency rooms across the state “are flooded every day with scores of people who are desperate for treatment.” Similarly, the courts are also overwhelmed. “I get calls from various courts asking for help in getting people into treatment because it’s not available in local communities,” he says.
At present, amidst the exploding use of opioid, the nation is paying the price of the long-neglected and disrupted treatment infrastructure. In its 2019 budget, the Trump administration, in order to help address the epidemic, has projected an additional $900 million for Health and Human Services.
However, making the treatment available on demand would require spending tens of billions of dollars in the upcoming years. This may seem too much, but is actually modest in comparison to the anticipated substance abuse costs of $450 billion that the nation suffers from each year.
Along with the government, the journalists should also revise their approach to the drug abuse. They should rather look for exposing the evident loopholes in the treatment system of the nation. Besides, they must focus on the real scandal in the fight against drugs, and not dramatizing the dilemma of people who don’t receive any help when they need.