1. Opioid Crisis:
With over 70,000 overdose deaths last year, 4 per week in Delaware County, there is no greater issue facing American families today.
President Trump declared a state of emergency and then failed to ensure that Congress dedicated the funds to adequately address the issue. State legislatures nationwide have done very little beyond issuing a 7-day limit to prescriptions and requiring doctors be educated about opioids. This was only a start! Here is what my group, the Opioid Crisis Action Network (OCAN) proposes:
1. Prescriptions of opioids should not exceed 3 days and minors should not be prescribed opioids at all. (Exceptions should be granted to the chronically or terminally ill.)
2. As much as is practical, prescriptions for opioids should be written by pain management specialists.
3. Requirements for doctors’ education should be expanded to include alternative pain management techniques.
4. Doctors who knowingly administer opioids to an addict should lose their certification. (Exceptions could be granted if cases of extreme pain arise.)
5. Hospital emergency rooms who treat overdose victims should be required to input the names of the surviving patients in a database that alerts pharmacies and all prescribing doctors of the incident so that those drug abusers will not be able to obtain opioid prescriptions after an overdose.
6. From a patient’s first treatment, insurance companies should provide coverage for extended stays in rehabilitation facilities and reimburse all treatments the addict needs, including detox, intensive in-patient, intensive outpatient, and extended stays in recovery facilities.
7. Insurance companies must cover doctor visits for and prescriptions of Vivitrol, a monthly injection that blocks neuro-receptors, as well as Suboxone and Subutex, sub linguals that achieve the same affect.
8. Local, state and federal Governments must budget adequately for the treatment of those who do not have insurance coverage or are below the poverty line and on Medicaid. Each year, local and state funds are depleted by April or May, leaving addicts uncovered and at risk and treatment facilities financially drained.
9. There should be a five-year minimum sentence for selling heroin.
10. When insurance companies cover needed treatment for policy holders, and federal, state and local governments adequately fund the treatment of those who are uninsured, law enforcement and drug courts could facilitate the treatment of addicts who suffer an overdose or are caught purchasing or in possession of heroin. Then, open air markets like Kensington could be shut down.
11. Internet sales of fentanyl and opioids must be stopped.
12. Patients who disrupt the treatment of others or refuse to participate in supervised treatment, should be sentenced to a year in a prison where drug treatment is available.
13. Every prison should have an excellent drug treatment program.
Since most convicts will be released, it would be better for everyone if they were clean, sober and not craving a high when they were returned to society.
14. We must establish recovery high schools in every county that has a youth opioid crisis, preferably by emulating successful models used in Massachusetts, where young addicts are educated while receiving the care they need.