President Trump says opioid crisis not public health emergency

President Trump wants to take a "Just Say No" campaign approach to the problem.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)-  The number of people who die from opioid abuse is “equal to September 11 every three weeks”, according to President Trump’s opioid commission. But despite recommendations from the commission, President Trump says he will not declare the opioid epidemic as a public health emergency.

“It’s a big big problem”, says Robert Gauthier of Chicopee. “It’s just something’s gotta be done very shortly about it. A lot of people are dying from it.”

President Trump would like to use a “Just Say No”-style campaign to deal with the epidemic,but doctors at Baystate Medical Center say that may not be the only way to cure the problem.

“We have to realize that this problem is bigger than just saying no”, says Dr. Niels Rathlev of the Emergency Medicine Department at Baystate Medical Center. “Saying no is not the answer, certainly not the sole answer.”

During a briefing, President trump said he’s in favor of a stronger law enforcement response to the crisis. Historically, looking as far back as the Prohibition in the 1920’s, stricter enforcement hasn’t worked.

“It is a disease, it’s genetically based and I think we have to treat it as such”, says Dr. Rathlev.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of deaths from overdose involving opioids has quadrupled since 1999. At Baystate Medical Center, the amount of cases coming to the emergency room has at least doubled since last year.

Dr. Rathlev says the best way to dealing with the problem is to reduce the stigma of addiction and for emergency room doctors to recognize when someone is becoming addicted.

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