Krista McNallyAug 1, 2017, 8:56 pm

LI doctor: Declaring national emergency would do nothing to help opioid crisis

NJ Gov. Chris Christie is calling for president to enact state of emergency


Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie leads a commission that addresses the opioid crisis and yesterday the bipartisan panel called for a first and most urgent recommendation to declare a state of emergency.

"The amount of opioids that are being prescribed in this country would allow every adult to be medicated for three weeks," Gov. Christie said.

The governors of Arizona, Florida, Maryland, and Virginia have all declared a state of emergency regarding the opioid addiction crisis.

Addiction is killing thousands of people nationwide every year but critics on Long Island say it's going to take more than a state of emergency to deal with the crisis.

"We are not sure what declaring a state of emergency actually means, but what I do know is we spent the last several weeks arguing whether or not to take health insurance away from people who struggle with addiction so it feels like more lip service rather than substance," said Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds of the Family and Children’s Association.

Dr. Reynolds has been a leader on this opioid issue on Long Island. He says this problem should have been addressed sooner.

"Congress has set aside money and those dollars have not yet made it out into the community to address prevention, treatment, and support for people in recovery along with a law enforcement response, so far none of that has happened," he said.

Locally, more than 500 people die on Long Island every year from an overdose. Nationally, 142 Americans die every day from an overdose. That is equal to a death toll equal to the September 11 attacks every three weeks.

The commission also proposed waving a federal rule that limits the number of medical recipients who can receive residential addiction treatment and it called for expanding access to medications to help treat opioid addiction.

"We are going to make sure our recommendations are broad and able to cover everyone suffering from this problem,” Christie said.

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