The 2020 Elections and the Opioid Epidemic

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Shlomo Hoffman
Oct 26, 2020

The elections are here!

If you don’t live under a rock of epic proportions, you know that a presidential election is shortly upon us, and that the two sides involved don’t agree on much. Bipartisanship is kinda like brick and mortar retail. Warm relics of an ancient past that you tell your kids about around a roaring fire.

As the first Tuesday in November nears, election talking points have been completely focused on the Covid-19 pandemic, and the economic fallout that came with it. Talk of the opioid crisis and how to respond has unfortunately been relegated to the sidelines.

It is, however, the one thing that everyone on either side of the aisle agrees exists. Rs and Ds disagree about everything from masks to immigration, but everyone admits that opioids are overwhelming this country. Whether you are blue red or green, it is clear that the opioid crisis in this country is real, kills without mercy, and desperately needs to be addressed.  Over 130 people die every day from drug overdose and the death toll stands at over 50,000 yearly.  

The government and the opioid epidemic

There have been numerous initiatives over the years to combat the epidemic. In 2017 Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health crisis and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced 5 major priorities to fight addiction:

  1. improving access to treatment and recovery services
  2. promoting use of overdose-reversing drugs
  3. strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance
  4. providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction
  5. advancing better practices for pain management

A significant bipartisan bill creating program and allocating funds was passed in 2018 to meet these priorities. Although a number of public health experts felt that much more could have been done, in this polarizing political era the partnership between both parties highlighted the clear decimation drug addiction and overdose deaths are having on society.  

There were also steps taken by the federal government to properly regulate distribution of prescription opioids in the medical arena.

As with any issue that can be impacted by politics, it is important to understand the varying outlooks from the politicians seeking to represent us before pulling the voting lever. It is where we influence policy and make our contribution to its direction.

Local politics makes a difference

It is endlessly important to remember that real progress is not limited to Presidential elections and federal politics. So much of the real work gets done in local government. Every town’s challenges are different, and their responses should be tailored to their realities.

Whether you are firmly Republican or Democrat, Trump or Biden, or red or blue, exploring down ballot candidates and their ideas can be really helpful. Ask yourself what your community needs. And then find out if your councilman, mayor, and congressman understand and care.

Ask questions. Make your voice heard.

 There are so many questions haunting us relating to the opioid crisis and the solutions are so much clearer on the local level.

Ask yourself:

  • Do we have enough treatment facilities in our neighborhood?
  • How does local law enforcement view their roles in stemming the tide?
  • Are we budgeting for community outreach and youth programs?
  • Are we creating awareness as a community?
  • How do our local schools address the concept to our children?
  • What measures are our local candidates proposing?

This is a sampling of course. Everybody has a different perspective. And guess what? That’s ok! Its even great. Even though it has largely disappeared from the national political stage, there is room left in local constituencies for healthy debate, real initiatives, and a spirit of collaboration.

Vote!

Election season can be overwhelming. People are passionate about their respective sides, but we often forget to concentrate on understanding which policies will actually make a difference.

Educate yourselves on the issues important to you. Try to understand how you feel about the different ideas being bandied about, analyze the pros and cons, and listen to what the people who want your vote are saying.

We are privileged as Americans to get to take part in the democratic process.

Show interest. Be informed.

And vote!

Since joining the Avenues Recovery content team, Shlomo has become a thought leader in the addiction field. His popular addiction podcast "Rubber Bands" is a must listen for anyone involved in Substance abuse treatment. He is a Seinfeld junkie, a recovering Twitter fanatic, and a sports expert. He enjoys milk shakes and beautiful views from rooftops.

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