President Trump’s declaring the opioid epidemic a national health emergency is a critical first step, but it does not address the urgent need for more federal funds to fight this crisis, according to Arthur C. Evans, Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association (APA).
Evans said the declaration does not automatically direct federal funds to address the problem – funds which should go to the states, because they “are battling this epidemic on the front lines.”
Evans called for other measures to stem the rise of opioid use, including:
- Expanding funding for substance use prevention and treatment services at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and for research at the National Institutes of Health on a broad range of treatments for opioid use disorder.
- Allowing the government to negotiate lower prices for naloxone, a drug that quickly counteracts the effects of opioid overdose.
- Promoting the use of nonpharmacological alternatives for pain management by psychologists and other behavioral health professionals to lower the incidence of opioid use disorder.
- Granting Medicaid waivers to all 50 states and other U.S. jurisdictions to allow coverage of services for mental health and substance use disorders in institutions for mental disease.
- Providing viable treatment alternatives to incarceration for individuals accused of minor opioid use-related offenses.
- Appointing a director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and filling the post of Health and Human Services secretary, which would help ensure that all possible actions are taken to respond to this emergency declaration.
“It is critical that we provide access to affordable, quality health services and that our health care system embrace integrated health care, in which psychologists and other health care professionals work in teams to provide comprehensive health services. This includes working to prevent and treat substance use disorders,” Evans added.