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The Opioid Epidemic

Everyday, 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids. President Trump last thursday declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, delivering on one of his campaign promises. However, his failure to declare it a “national emergency”, like he promised he would, limits the amount of funding that can be allocated to addressing the issue immediately.

Trump stated that his efforts to combat this epidemic would include that of increasing research into developing non-addictive painkillers, hiring specialists into the department of health, and requiring federal doctors to implement safer and more cautious behaviour when prescribing painkillers.

Increased efforts to stop the shipment of fentanyl, a very lethal opioid, into the United States was also cited in the president’s action plan. However, the part that the president put the most emphasis on was advertising. “This was an idea that I had, where if we can teach young people not to take drugs, it’s really, really easy not to take them,” Trump said during a press conference held in the White House. While advertising has shown to be very powerful in the past, students are still concerned with how effective an advertising campaign would be, especially when dealing with an issue as prevalent as Opiate addiction.

“I don’t see why he’s trying to copy the Reagan Administration,” said Quinn Kobayashi, senior, “It didn’t work in the past, why would it work in the future?” The Nancy Reagan campaign to prevent use in America is often seen as a failure along with the drug war in America as a whole. Students have instead started looking at other areas that could use reform.

“These big medicine companies have a lot of power through lobbyists, if Trump really wanted to address the issue of opioid and painkiller abuse he should focus on the power of lobbyists in our country,” said Jessie Carolan, senior. Lobbyists and corporate donations are a large element of politics, and many younger people believe that restricting their influence could help decrease the prevalence of prescription painkillers. One thing that everyone can agree on however is that the opioid epidemic is an issue, and that acknowledging the problem at hand in an attempt to start searching for solutions is a step in the right direction for an administration desperately struggling for positive results.