October 26, 2017
The White House
c/o President Donald J. Trump
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
We cannot thank you enough for declaring the opioid epidemic a public health crisis and taking quick action. As a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting individuals, families, and communities impacted by addiction and overdose through support education, advocacy, and harm reduction, we commend you for taking the following important steps:
- Mentioning your brother’s addiction, and the stories of those impacted
- Addressing this issue as a medical crisis by calling for enhanced education and training for federal health care employees and practitioners across the country, and innovating medical interventions
- Focusing on international drug importing controls
- Working to eliminate the IMD exclusion
- Keeping families impacted by addiction and overdose together
- Emphasizing the importance of drug courts as alternatives to incarceration
- Providing treatment to those incarcerated who have struggled with a substance use disorder
- Recognizing the devastating impact on children and infants, innocents who are dealing with adverse childhood experiences, often leading to lifelong risky circumstances and behaviors
- Stressing the importance of addiction as a family illness
- Identifying the work of passionate Americans to turn the tide in their own communities
- Working together as a country to support one another in order to combat this crisis
While we support you in these endeavors, we want to help you understand evidence-based prevention strategies and learn from America’s mistakes when it comes to public health messaging around drug use. While the “Just Say No” Campaign and D.A.R.E. were well-intended, these programs were ultimately defunded and done away with by the federal government for failing to offer its participants – mainly students and young people – realistic, practical strategies to prevent use in their lives. Human beings are more complicated than “just saying no.” While it is wonderful that you have been able to resist substance use, it is uncommon for individuals to follow suit, especially since the brain naturally seeks pleasure and an altered state of being. Even brain scans show that sugar is just as addictive as cocaine. We recommend that your administration research types of educational programs that have proven to reduce substance use and bolster social-emotional learning and resiliency for youth, their parents, school staff, and the broader public.
Identifying drug users as criminals does not help reduce stigma. In our daily work helping drug users, we have yet to meet a client who did not have to buy or sell drugs to maintain their addiction. These individuals deserve treatment, and not jail as many studies have proven time and time again, and do not deserve to be reduced to the behaviors caused by their illness.
We are also confused by the correlation between the wall being built and the reduction in opioid trafficking across the border considering the various types of access tactics. While this is an international crisis, the drug trade is alive and well in our own country. In fact, many of our clients have manufactured drugs in their own homes that they have distributed in their communities.
We also want to commend you on mentioning the overdose crisis repeatedly. Unfortunately, 175+ people die daily from an accidental opioid overdose, so people need to know about naloxone/Narcan®/EVZIO®, the opioid overdose antagonist, and how to access it in their community. Saying this simple statement could have saved millions of lives.
Like you said, we are all in this together. We may not all agree on the same strategy, but if there is one thing we have learned it is that our own experiences help shape our lives, but evidence should drive solutions. Without looking at the data and lessons learned, we are simply recreating a history of destruction.
We are happy to help build a training program for you, introduce you to individuals and families impacted (as we all are), and we are even willing to assist in the development of a strategy to end this crisis.
Often, high-level decision makers and subject matter experts can develop logical interventional models, but people on the ground see the real impact of the opioid crisis every day and can provide real insight into the intricate complexities and trends that are often missed.
Please feel free to visit our website – live4lali.org – or you can tweet us at @live4lali.
Thank you for your time.
Cofounders, Board of Directors, and Staff
3255 N. Arlington Heights Rd, Ste 508
Arlington Heights, IL 60004
Categorised in: Uncategorized
This post was written by live4lali