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Here’s what Trump’s new executive order means for opioid addiction


BY   March 29, 2017 at 11:10 PM EDT

White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (L-R) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie join U.S. President Donald Trump for an opioid and drug abuse listening session at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 29, 2017.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, left, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie join President Donald Trump for an opioid and drug abuse listening session Mar. 29 at the White House. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will lead a new national opioid commission created Wednesday by an executive order from President Donald Trump that also maps out his administration’s latest strategy to combat the public health crisis.

“Addiction is a disease, and no life is disposable.”

The fight against the opioid epidemic is “one that’s incredibly important to every family in every corner of this country,” Christie said Wednesday in an interview with The Today Show, adding he and Trump “both care passionately about this issue and we want to save lives.”

“Addiction is a disease, and no life is disposable. We can help people by giving them appropriate treatment,” Christie said.

Trump tweeted late Wednesday that his signed executive order would create a presidential commission designed to combat opioid addiction and the opioid crisis.

READ MORE: In the war on heroin, Baltimore drug programs face an uncertain future

According to Trump’s signed order, the commission is designed to:

  • Identify existing federal dollars to combat drug addiction, including opioids;
  • Assess availability and access to addiction treatment centers and overdose reversal and identify underserved areas;
  • Measure the effectiveness of state prescription drug monitoring programs;
  • Evaluate public messaging campaigns about prescription and illegal opioids, and identify best practices for drug prevention.

READ MORE: McCaskill launches investigation of opioid drugmakers

In 90 days, the commission will submit an interim report to Trump with its findings. It will submit a final report by Oct. 1, unless more time is needed, according to the executive order. The commission will dissolve a month later.

On the campaign trail, Trump promised to tackle the nation’s opioid crisis. But in February, the New York Times reported the Trump Administration planned to eliminate the White House Office for National Drug Control Policy, a three-decades-old office that President Ronald Reagan and Congress created to orchestrate the country’s drug policy and strategies. The report concerned public health officials who worried about lost resources in the middle of nationwide opioid epidemic.

The executive order signed Wednesday by Trump asks that office to help the commission carry out some of its tasks. It does not make mention of what will happen to the “drug czar,” a leadership position created by President Ronald Reagan. President Barack Obama’s most recent appointee, Michael Botticelli, promoted expanded access to naloxone and other kinds of treatment, and shepherded a prescription drug monitoring program that is active in all states except Missouri. He also made headlines for being the first person in the position to be openly recovering from addiction.

The national drug control policy office referred questions from the NewsHour to the White House, which did not respond to requests for comment.

In January, Christie promised New Jerseyans that he would devote his final year in office to making headway in the state’s own fight against opioid addiction, the Associated Press reported. This policy work continues efforts he launched in 2011, as detailed by

READ MORE: Another West Virginia town sues drug wholesalers

By the end of 2016, the state had expanded access to naloxone — an opioid antidote that reverses potentially fatal overdoses within minutes — and created a program that uses electronic data to track how often doctors and pharmacists doll out prescription drugs. Christie’s administration also devoted more resources to the state’s drug courts, which allows defendants who face drug charges to choose between treatment or jail time.

Christie attended a White House meeting to discuss strategies to address opioid addiction, intervention and treatment Wednesday morning along with Trump and several members of the administration, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Kelly and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, among others. The meeting also included some representatives of the law enforcement and health communities, as well as advocates and those recovering from addiction.

“Stopping this epidemic is an issue that every American regardless of political background can and must get behind,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Wednesday, adding that the day’s announcement was the first step in bringing stakeholders together.

Trump’s decision to form the commission is a step in the right direction, says Mary Bassett, who leads the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In November, she co-signed a letter sent to the Trump transition team by 10 other public health officials from the across the country asking for attention to the issue.

READ MORE: Opioids as a first response to pain? Hospitals are rethinking that policy

“Opioid overdose deaths are preventable but have claimed too many American lives, and the growing presence of more potent drugs is exacerbating the problem,” she says in a written statement from the department. “This executive order for an opioid commission seems to be an important step toward addressing the opioid epidemic at a national level.”

“This executive order for an opioid commission seems to be an important step toward addressing the opioid epidemic at a national level.”

Preventing further tragedy requires “all hands on deck,” echoed Sen. Claire McCaskill, who earlier in the week launched an investigation into drugmakers who make the nation’s top-five selling prescription opioids.

“Drug overdose deaths, the majority of which are from heroin and prescription opioids, are a national crisis,” McCaskill said in a written statement. “We’ll need the help of Governor Christie, President Trump, and others at all levels of government, from any party affiliation, if we’re going to make progress and save lives.”

The announcement arrives the same day a new report revealed the changing profile of Americans who use and abuse heroin. According to Silvia Martins and researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, heroin use has become more prevalent over the last decade, increasing across all measures for age, race, gender, education, income and marital status — especially among white, uneducated men.

“The nonmedical use of prescription opioids preceding heroin use increased among white individuals, supporting a link between the prescription opioid epidemic and heroin use in this population,” the report said.

“Heroin use has become more normative over time.”

Researchers analyzed more than 79,000 respondents who asked about drug use in 2002-2003 and 2012-2013 for the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Their findings were released in JAMA Psychiatry Wednesday.

“Heroin use has become more normative over time,” Martins told the NewsHour. The commission’s task is, in part, to stop that.


SRSC Resource Center


Bill Wilson

The Founder of Alcoholic Anonymous


Bill Wilson, the Founder of Alcoholic Anonymous, traced his journey to sobriety through the Oxford Group. In November 1934, while he was still a practicing alcoholic, Bill was visited by an old friend, Ebby Thatcher, who had been restored to sobriety through the oxford Group. One month later, while in a hospital undergoing treatment for alcoholism, Bill was again visited by Mr. Thatcher, at which time the principles of the Group were explained. Twenty years later, Bill Wilson described his conversion experience that night in this way:

            My depression deepened unbearably and finally it seemed to me as though I were at the very bottom of the pit. I still gagged badly at the notion of a Power greater than myself, but finally, just for the moment, the last vestige of my proud obstinacy was crushed. All at once I found myself crying out, “If there is a God, let him show Himself! I am ready to do anything, anything!”

Suddenly, the room lit up with a great white light. I was caught up into ecstasy which there are no words to describe. It seemed to me, in the mind’s eye, that I was on a mountain and that a wind not of air but of spirit was blowing. And then it burst upon me that I was a free man. Slowly the ecstasy subsided. I lay on the bed, but this time I was in another world, a new world of consciousness. All about me and through me there was a wonderful feeling of presence, and I thought to myself, “So this is the God of the preachers!” A great peace stole over me and I thought, “No matter how wrong things seem to be, they are still all right. Things are all right with God and His world.”

(Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age: A Brief History of A.A., p.63)

For the next three years, Bill Wilson pursued his recovery through the Oxford Group, which emphasized the following:

  1. ) Complete deflation (of false pride)
  2. ) Dependence and guidance from a Higher Power
  3. ) Moral Inventory
  4. ) Confession
  5. ) Restitution
  6. ) Continued work with other suffering persons

In the meantime, during a business trip to Akron, Ohio, Bill experienced a strong urge to drink. Fearing he was going to relapse, he began calling churches and asking if there was an alcoholic in that town with whom he could talk. He knew, as a principle of his Oxford Group Activity, that he could only retain his recovery if he were actively involved in helping others like himself. The man with whom he finally linked was Dr. Bob Smith, an alcoholic surgeon. They first met in May 1935, and Bill shared his own life story and his newfound spiritual realization that if he persisted in his drinking, he would either go mad or die. They talked night after night. Dr. Bob finally began to share frankly with his new friend. After ten days of sobriety, that ended in one final binge, Dr. Bob had his last drink on June 10 of that same year. Many people point to this date as the actual founding of Alcoholic Anonymous, although it would not be known by that name for another four years.

In August of 1937, Wilson broke away from the Oxford Group because certain alcoholics had trouble with its rather aggressive evangelism. A large percentage of them were Catholics and were prohibited by Canon Law from becoming affiliated with religious movements outside the church.  Also, Frank Buchman had assumed a controversial stance, from which Wilson wanted to distance himself.

Despite this organizational break, the Oxford Group and the Scriptures remain the foundation for much of Alcoholics anonymous and the twelve Steps used in recovery programs today. For example, the tradition of sharing and story-telling that was common in the house meetings of the oxford Group is perpetuated in A.A. and other recovery group meetings today. Also, no Oxford Group member was ever allowed to appear alone or represent the group as a whole. Likewise, in A.A., there is no leader, no president, no representative for the group.

Today tens of Millions of Americans suffer from dependency problems, ranging from chemical addiction to sexual compulsivity; and additionally, over 100 million live in families with or are codependently related to these dependent individuals. Recovery is possible. Approximately 15 million persons are actively involved in 500,000 recovery groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Non, Emotions Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous.

For More insight into each of the Twelve Steps that have helped millions battle addictions, continuing. You’ll discover, too, where to find recovery meditations and related passages, highlighted through the Bible text.


From, Steps to Serenity: An Introduction p.18,19,20 & 21

Serenity, A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery

Complete with New Testament Psalms & Proverbs

By, Dr. Robert Hemfelt and Dr. Richard Fowler

Copyright 1990 by Thomas Nelson, Inc


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