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A Silent Epidemic

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A Silent Epidemic

DRUGS: With thousands of citizens dying every year from opioid overdoses, President Trump has yet to declare a permanent state of emergency.

By Elissa Choi
December 13, 2017

His writhing body, her tear-stained cheeks, and a place of darkness.

Opioids have left over 16,000 people dead in 2016, and the numbers only continue to rise. Thousands are dying from inescapable addictions, and the average age of when an opioid user becomes addicted has dropped to 23.

The country is facing a crisis.

For the friends and family who are impacted, there seems to be no light at the end of the long, dark tunnel of addiction and overdose. Every day is another battle to prevent loved ones from falling into a scary trap of addiction.

In light of the crisis, President Trump declared a 90-day public health emergency.

An epidemic as deadly as the opioid crisis needs stronger action. If the president truly cared for the well-being of thousands of his mentally unstable, unhealthy, and addicted citizens, he would declare a broader national emergency but has only gotten around to declaring a temporary one after campaigning extensively against heroin and dangerous drugs such as fentanyl.

A sensible action the president could take is to find funding for addiction therapy in his new healthcare plan. He should expand, rather than take away, insurance coverage for Americans struggling with addiction. Many citizens are begging their Congressional representative to champion legislation that includes insurance for opiate addicts.

State governors are also crying out for help. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin declared that his state is in the midst of a heroin crisis. In nearby Rhode Island, emergency calls for overdose are common. State health officials distributed Narcan and naloxone—antidotes that reverse the effects of an overdose—to all police officers.

The opioid crisis is killing more Americans than AIDS, and according to Open Society Foundations, only one in 10 Americans are receiving proper treatment for their addictions.

Trump nominated Alex Azar for Secretary of Health and Human Services in November—filling a longstanding vacancy—while there remains an open position for the director of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) while lives are being lost every single day to a crisis that needs strong guidance from the presidential administration.

Trump can continue to offer condolences and meaningless declarations, but if he truly cares for the country’s well-being, he must appoint the right people for critical agencies in need of strong leadership.

But as Trump sits in his office firing off angry tweets, hundreds of people die everyday because of his inaction.

Elissa Choi is currently the Feature Editor for The Mirror. She joined during her junior year and is currently in her second year with the publication.

Elissa focuses her articles on U.S. politics and how the Van Nuys High School student body is affected by the government’s decisions. She has been awarded Honorable Mentions by the NSPA for her diversity articles. She will be attending Barnard College in the fall of 2018 majoring in political science with a concentration in international relations and urban studies.

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A Silent Epidemic