When North Korea threatens the United States incessantly, a category 4 hurricane hits major southern cities, and healthcare reform is routinely failing, it puts a major, partisan, focus on politics. The media is outraged, the left is violently protesting, and political twitter rages on. I know what you’re thinking. I, too, am tired of hearing about all of it. But, perhaps we’re focusing on the wrong thing. If we focus too much on selective American issues, the country begins to miss the critical problems lying under the surface.
Alarmingly, 91 Americans die every day from opioid prescription drug overdoses. On a bigger scale, between 2000 and 2015, half a million people have died from prescription opioid overdose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25% of patients prescribed pain medicine will become addicted to it. These statistics are terrifying, but what’s worse is that the amount of opioid medications sold to pharmacies and doctor’s offices has quadrupled (yes, quadrupled) even though Americans report no change in pain.
After almost two decades of this epidemic flying under our political radar, we are finally seeing public uproar. But is the attention strong enough?
When it comes to tackling problems such as this one, we must look to conservative leaders. Our president has defined this problem best. According to NBC, Trump declared:
It’s a national emergency. We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.
He isn’t just all talk either. The crisis was recently registered as a national emergency. This will allow the executive branch to appropriate funds to the development of treatment programs and facilities and to supply law enforcement with the counter-drug, Naloxone, which remedies drivers who have overdosed.
To see how legislators are actively handling this crisis, we must look to Missouri. Missouri is the only state in the union that currently lacks prescription drug monitoring programs. Aside from the governor’s war on drugs, state representative Holly Rehder, has drafted legislation to combat these addictive medications. This legislation, if passed, would close the state gap across our country and would enable the state to monitor prescription abuse.
You’d probably think conservatives would prioritize the economy or immigration over mental health and science. I don’t see it that way. Your country won’t last very long if its people are dying. We can’t reform immigration and empower the economy without our health. As a country, I urge us to go back to the basics and ask: Are our people healthy? Are there other underlying issues that have yet to surface? How many more families have to endure the heartache of watching a loved one fall to addiction?
This isn’t party politics. This isn’t partisan. This is people.