President Trump and other leaders must work together to reduce drug deaths

President Trump’s declaration Thursday that the opioid crisis is a “national emergency” was an important step, but doesn’t go far enough. Abuse of multiple drugs across our country is a health and crime emergency that has created an intolerable death toll of staggering proportions.

America needs leadership from the president and elected officials of both parties – at every level of government – to protect our people from needless drug deaths, in the same way they work together to protect us from terrorism and natural disasters. 

As the New York Times reported in June, “drug overdose deaths in 2016 most likely exceeded 59,000, the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States,” according to preliminary data compiled by the newspaper. That’s a 19 percent increase over the 52,404 drug overdose deaths in 2015, which included about 15,000 deaths involving prescription opioids.

By contrast, a Cato Institute study found that terrorists have killed far fewer Americans. Terrorists murdered 3,432 people in the United States between 1975 and the end of 2015 – including all the people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.     

The drug overdose problem is bigger in our country than anywhere in the world. As Vox reported in June: “America has about 4 percent of the world’s population – but about 27 percent of the world’s drug overdose deaths,” according to a recent United Nations report.

We must wake up to the need to protect the American people from the deaths caused by the scourge of opiates and other drugs that are abused. Ignoring the need for urgent action amounts to willful ignorance, or worse – callous disregard for truth.  

Sadly, drug overdoses are the leading cause of death among Americans under 50. Kids get the brunt of that horror, and stunned parents are…

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