As researchers continue to assess the opioid crisis, there’s still work to be done. President Donald Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis says the opioid epidemic has become a national crisis, and the president has said that he agrees with that assessment.
Researcher Paul Moberg with the University of Wisconsin School of Public Health says the crisis concept is certainly borne out here in Wisconsin, where in 2015 there were 614 deaths from opiods. “In 2016, we had 588 traffic deaths, so we now have surpassed the number of traffic deaths with our number of deaths due to opioid drugs,” Moberg said.
“We’re trying to get a handle on how many households actually have some opioid prescriptions in the medic cabinet. Part of the problem with this epidemic has been the over-prescribing of opioids for what isn’t necessarily significant pain.”
The presidential commission’s preliminary recommendations are largely in line with many public health advocates: emphasizing treatment over law enforcement and backing the use of medical alternatives to heroin such as methadone. “It certainly is a public health crisis, and we don’t know if its peaked yet,” Moberg said. “It certainly needs a major response.”