President Trump is expected to announce the creation of an opiate abuse task force later this week. The formation of this commission marks Trump’s first attempt to fulfill his campaign promise to fight the opioid epidemic.
New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, is set to play a primary role in the new White House initiative to tackle the nation’s opioid epidemic. The Washington Post reported that Trump’s son-in-law and advisor, Jared Kushner, and Governor Christie have been working on this since February. Reports also indicate that this position would be voluntary and part-time; therefore, Christie would not be required to give up his Governorship. The Executive Order creating this commission will be making recommendations on the funding, treatment, education, and laws surrounding opiate abuse and addiction.
Of the 20.5 million Americans that had a substance abuse disorder in 2015, 2 million had an addiction involving opiate pain relievers, and 591,000 had an addiction involving heroin. An estimated 35,000 opiate addicts died of drug overdoses last year. In addition to the human cost, there are high financial costs to the country, with an estimated total economic burden of $78.5 billion, according to a study in the October issue of Medical Care.