Wayside House
Call us now: 800-655-0817
Sessions Talks Fighting Opioid Epidemic in Florida but Plans are Proven to be Ineffective

Sessions Talks Fighting Opioid Epidemic in Florida but Plans are Proven to be Ineffective

Written by: stodzy | Date: March 12, 2018

During the last “war on drugs” the U.S. Government planned a massive onslaught against the Cocaine cartels but seemed to just put more Americans in jail than they did cartel members. Now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has declared a new war on drugs, but this time, against the opioid epidemic.

Is it Going to Be Different?

In early February, Sessions traveled around Florida to discuss new methods of taking down the opioid epidemic. His two major bullet points? To fight the drug epidemic and get people into treatment.

However, many critics are saying that as of now, the administration has largely been all talk and no real action. This debate has come after 2017’s announcement of a National Health Emergency in regards to the opioid epidemic. Through nonexperienced cabinet members, zero requests for additional funding, and largely no announced plan of action, many are wondering what is really going to change.

Law Enforcement

To give the benefit of the doubt, Sessions did discuss his plans for new “boots on the ground” tactics to help restrict the onslaught coming in from other countries.

  • Fentanyl

  • J-Code

    • Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement – consisting of FBI, DEA, and USPS, this task force will be responsible for monitoring and targeting the internet for illegal traffickers who sell drugs online.
  • Foreign Trade

    • Restricting and heavily monitoring trade and products being imported from China and Mexico.
    • President Trump banned fentanyl importation from major Chinese to crossing United States borders

So far, that is about it for Sessions when it comes to ideas on how to take down the opioid epidemic. So far, it sounds a whole lot like the same “War on Drugs” from the Reagan era, which lead to a 500% increase in incarceration rates, primarily of poor or impoverished American citizens.

The New Drug Cabinet

President Trump has appointed his election campaign manager to be in charge of the opioid epidemic agenda in the White House. Kellyanne Conway, who has no experience with drug policy, public health, or law enforcement, has reportedly been squeezing out important and professional members of the Government’s drug policy professionals from planning meetings and public health reform agenda.

Trump also just enforced massive budget cuts to what was previously the main vein for drug policy and reform, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which now has no director of the office, and the chief of staff was fired by Trump this last year. The current acting director of the ONDCP has reportedly been invited to none of Conway’s opioid epidemic planning meetings.

Even more so on the same line as a Reagan era war on drugs, President Trump’s major plans of actions are increased advertisement about the dangers of drug use (i.e., Just Say No) and increased spending on border control and foreign policing.

Despite naming New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to the position of Chair of the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, Trump has not taken a single recommendation or plan of action from the commission. Christie has presented well thought out ideas such as access to treatment for addicts, increased education about safe prescribing for medical professionals, and community-based programs to approach addiction. All of which, have gone unnoticed.

The Sessions Trail

Hitting major cities in Florida from Tampa to Key West, Sessions promoted a new approach to battling the deadly opioid epidemic, and even acknowledge that this one would have to be different than the last War on Drugs.

“We all got to figure out how we’re going to change. It cannot be business as usual… It hasn’t been effective. Things have changed, and we have to change.” However, all of his proposed plans of actions were ones that have been used in drug epidemics past. So, the summit was less about Session’s offering up new ideas, and more about local government agencies, law enforcement, and public health officials coming up with new strategies.

One hot topic that has not been hit on by literally any of the Trump Administrations opioid cabinet members, is the role those big pharmaceutical companies have to play in the opioid epidemic. While yes, a large portion of Fentanyl and illegal drugs are being imported from overseas, those amounts are dwarfed in comparison to the number of opioid pills that are being sold by U.S. Pharmaceutical companies, to U.S Citizens, each year.

Local Government

Florida state Governor Rick Scott has been very vocal about his ideas for real progress in the battle against the opioid epidemic. His four measures have widely been agreed upon and have started taking shape in other states, as they are manageable and achievable short-term goals that can be picked away at ASAP.

By increasing funding for substance abuse treatment and law enforcement, raising awareness and punishment for medical providers who practice unsafe prescribing habits, by allowing no more than three days worth of opioids to treat acute pain for patients, and by expanding the prescription drug monitoring program, Scott hopes to make a serious dent in the states current death toll from the opioid epidemic.

During his summit in Tampa, Sessions touched on the current death toll in Florida, “In just one year, we lost 5,700 Floridians… And as we all know, these are not numbers — these are moms, dads, daughters, spouses, friends, and neighbors.”

As for the rest of the country, we can only hope that these moms, dads, daughters, spouses, friends, and neighbors, don’t follow the same suit as those affected the war on drugs in the 80’s, and end up incarcerated.