On Thursday, October 26, 2017, President Donald Trump declared that the opiod addiction crisis is now a nationwide public health emergency. According to the CDC, the total estimated economic cost of the opiod crisis is $78.5 billion. However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Public Health Emergency Fund only makes a total of $57,000 available to the opiod health emergency, leaving the amount needed to fully address the epidemic largely unsupported.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that the opiod crisis had its beginnings in the 1990s when pharmaceutical companies sent the message that patients would not become addicted to prescription opiod pain relievers, and the medical community began to prescribe them at a higher rate. Before it was found that these medications could actually be highly addictive, misuse of the medications had already begun. NIH statistics show that 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opiods for chronic pain misuse them, and between 8 and 12 percent develop an opiod use disorder. In 2015, more than 33,000 Americans died as a result of an opiod overdose. While the solution to the problem is not cut and dry, the HHS and NIH are actively chipping away at five major areas to help bring it under control.