A week after the bipartisan White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis submitted its preliminary report asking President Donald Trump to declare a national state of emergency for the opioid crisis, Trump pledged that “we will fight this deadly epidemic and the United States will win.”
That deadly epidemic saw nearly 91.8 million people — more than one in three U.S. adults — use prescription opioids in 2015, with more than 11 million of them misusing the drugs, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 33,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2015, and the problem is getting worse.
Trump did not specify the tactics he would use to combat the crisis, but one effective tool may come from an unlikely ally: U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey. The same week the White House commission released its report, Booker introduced the Marijuana Justice Act of 2017, which could have a tremendous impact on how Americans manage pain.
Of the 11 million adults estimated to have misused prescription opioids in 2015, more than 63 percent cited physical pain as their reason for misuse. A recent study by doctors at the University of Michigan found that 1-in-16 surgery patients who is prescribed an opioid for pain relief becomes a “persistent user.”