The opioid epidemic is officially a public health emergency

November 16, 2017 - 11:12am

After years of an ever-increasing number of drug overdoses from opioid pain relievers (more than 30,000 in 2015, a 2.8-fold increase since 2002) and calls from all corners, including law enforcement, the American Medical Association
and local and state governments, President Donald Trump has declared the country’s current opioid epidemic a “public health emergency” to be managed under the Public Health Services Act. (It could have been declared a “national emergency.”)

The benefit of a public health emergency declaration is that it applies to the whole country (FEMA-style “national emergency declarations” often target single events and/or single areas) and may make telemedicine available to rural areas that don’t have enough doctors to help those in need. It’s also a great help in stimulating conversation among all Americans about how to address this challenge.

That’s why Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen, along with their partner Facing Addiction, are once again asking YOU, and YOU, and YOU to join in the Night of Conversation — a coming together of folks you care about (friends, family — including kids and elders — and coworkers) to share dinner and talk about addiction.

This November 16, tens of thousands of you will discover new ways to talk about the risks of using recreational drugs, including opioids, and offering your kids help in fending off peer pressure to do so. (More on that below!)

Back to the declaration of a public health emergency: There are some obstacles to success.

It lasts just 90 days, and then must be renewed, over and over and over. And while there’s a fund to implement public health emergency actions, it’s nearly empty. Congress needs to fill it up; looking at dollars and cents, it just makes sense.

According to Facing Addiction, the crisis of addiction costs the U.S. $442 billion annually!

So do it now, Congress! Do it again and again!

Only 20 percent of folks who currently need treatment for opioid-use disorder are getting it. That needs to change.

Another obstacle: Securing health insurance that covers addiction treatment services might be a big problem for some. The AMAhas declared: “There are now 37,637 physicians — a 27 percent increase in the past 12 months — certified
to provide office-based, medicationassisted treatment for opioid-use disorders across all 50 states. To help ensure patients receive care, however, health insurance companies, Medicaid and other payers must now remove administrative
barriers, such as prior authorization for medication-assisted treatment.”

And, says Jim Hood, founder and CEO of Facing Addiction, who lost his 20-year-old son Austin to an accidental overdose five years ago, we should be careful not to embrace a simplistic view of what it takes to avoid or break free of addiction: “That undercurrent ... that if all of you just decided not to do this, we’d be in a better place — I can tell you, my son did not decide that he wanted to become addicted, much less die,” he says. “We might have been much better served by framing this as a very serious illness, a very serious health issue.”

This is a public health emergency that also depends on private action, personally and within your family, with your kids. Awareness, understanding and compassion for those caught in their own personal health emergency of addiction are
the essential components of halting this epidemic.

So join us for the Night of Conversation about addiction on the 16th of this month.

Here are some resources that will help you make your Night of Conversation a wonderful evening of hope, health and loving care for one another:
Visit There you can search for:
1. “Facing addiction over dinner.”
2. “11 Facts you didn’t know about drugs.”
3. “Talking to your kids about drugs and alcohol.”
4. “Opioid addiction fact sheet.”
5. And if you or a loved one is searching for a way out of addiction, check out “facing addiction over dinner resources.”
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Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit
© 2017 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc

This column is sponsored by your local choice for healthy lifestyle products -Nutter's Bulk and Natural Foods
365 36th St. W, Prince Albert, SK
Phone: (306) 922-3835

Dr. Oz
By Mehmet Oz, M.D. and Mike Roizen, M.D

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