Cities Urge National Opioid Epidemic Efforts to Focus on Medical Treatment

The White House at Dusk
The White House at Dusk

WASHINGTON — August 10, 2017 Today, President Donald Trump announced his intention to declare a state of emergency in response to the ongoing opioid addiction crisis. The National League of Cities (NLC), America’s largest and most representative organization for cities and their leaders, has made combating the American opioid epidemic a top priority. In response to today’s announcement, NLC’s CEO and Executive Director Clarence Anthony issued the following statement:

“The opioid epidemic has long warranted the status of a national health emergency. It is the worst drug crisis in American history and claims 143 lives each day. Cities welcome the president’s announcement, hoping it will provide local governments with the flexibility and attention needed to combat this crisis, but demand a federal response that focuses on medical treatment to addiction rather than criminal punishment and stigmatization.

"True progress will only come if federal, state and local governments work together on solutions. Local leaders, law enforcement officers and medical providers stress the importance of alternatives to arrest and flexibility in dealing with addicts. That flexibility must be a priority as we work to address this crisis.

“The federal government must grant cities and towns the necessary tools and resources to effectively fight addiction. It must ensure full funding for its already-authorized opioid legislation, and local authorities must be given the freedom and support to pursue innovative approaches like drug courts. Most importantly, Congress must assure local health organizations that Medicaid expansion and its opioid treatment provisions will remain the law of the land.

“Today’s announcement is a hopeful sign of positive momentum, but also an opportunity for the federal government to open a dialogue with local leaders who have been tackling these challenges from the ground. We welcome the federal government as a more involved partner in local efforts to address, contain, and end this tragic epidemic."

Last year, the NLC partnered with the National Association of Counties (NACo) to convene a task force to develop strategies and recommendations for combatting the opioid crisis. The recommendations are compiled into a report, A Prescription for Action, which was released in December. You can find more about local efforts to combat the crisis at opioidaction.org.

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The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans. www.nlc.org

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