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How Could New Trump Budget Proposal Impact the Opioid Epidemic?

The Potential Pros and Cons of Trump Budget on Opioid Epidemic

Author: Justin Mckibben

It is no secret that the devastating opioid epidemic in America is still tearing a path of despair across the country. In 2015 this ongoing public health crisis ravaged communities, causing over 52,000 drug overdose deaths and more than 33,000 opioid overdose deaths. The opioid problem was a major campaign issue during the election, and now is one of the most pressing problems we face here in the states. Yet, upon examining the recent budget proposal released by President Trump and his administration, it seems the means to try and bring the epidemic to an end are lacking to say the least.

Given the current state of affairs, it is certain that tens of thousands of people will likely die of drug overdoses under President Donald Trump’s term. Taking that into account many hoped that drug treatment would be a serious priority. However, with the first big policy document from President Trump being the 2018 budget proposal, experts believe Trump is proving that the opioid crisis is not a priority. All this after claims that Trump would “spend the money” in order to “end the opioid epidemic in America.”

If anything, some experts are saying the proposal President Trump has introduced may actually make the opioid epidemic worse. So here we will take a look at some of the pros and cons of the 2018 proposed budget.

The Pros VS the Cons

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), this new budget plan makes little effort, and in the end it may ultimately prove obsolete.

  1. Nearly 2% increase in drug treatment spending

Pro- the ONDCP says this will amount to an estimated $200 million added to the already $10.6 billion the government already spent on treatment.

Con- the catch is this money includes the $500 million added by the 21st Century Cures Act from the Obama administration.

That essentially means without that Obama era legislation the Trump budget would have actually cut drug treatment spending. Ultimately, the cut will likely happen the year after the 2018 budget because the Cures Act money is only for 2017 and 2018.

  1. Cuts or No Cuts?

Pros- Still, according to the ONDCP figures of the 2018 budget, technically there are no proposed cuts to overall drug treatment spending this year.

Cons- However, the proposal does suggest other cuts to public health and anti-drug programs. The ONDCP states that these other cuts in funding can completely undermine any progress.

For example, the 2018 budget proposal from President Trump does seriously cut drug prevention programs across all federal agencies by approximately 11%.

Other Big Budget Debates

  • Medicaid

Probably one of the big arguments is the potential for problems with healthcare and cuts to Medicaid, especially since President Trump repeatedly ran on the promise that he would not be cutting Medicaid.

However, reports indicate Trump also proposes a 47% cut to Medicaid over the next 10 years! People have been up in arms about the suggestion that this could potentially strip the one affordable source of health insurance from millions of Americans. Part of which is actually used for drug addiction treatments.

A 2014 study showed that Medicaid paid for ¼ of projected public and private spending for drug treatment in 2014. That equates to around 7.9 billion dollars utilized for treating drug addiction.

  • SAMHSA

The new 2018 budget proposal also requests nearly $400 million worth of cuts to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

  • Mental Health Block Grants

The Trump budget requests hundreds of millions of dollars to be taken away from mental health block grants.

Beyond that, the budget calls for billions of dollars to be cut from agencies and programs that work to help address the opioid epidemic and drug addiction. Agencies with proposed cuts include:

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

While these are not drug treatment providers, they are actively involved in creating opportunities and providing research in the mental health and drug treatment communities.

Too Little Too Late

Advocates for drug treatment don’t only put this on Trump. For years the federal government has taken too long to take action to fight the epidemic. Even with the Obama administration it took until 2016 to pass any major legislation. Finally the 21st Century Cures Act added $1 billion to drug treatment for 2 years, but advocates insist that the problem requires much more funding.

This makes sense, considering the overdose outbreak now kills more people than:

  • Cars
  • Guns
  • Even HIV/AIDS at the peak of its outbreak

Examining the budget shows that the only significant action in the budget that would affect the epidemic is cuts in funding to important elements in the fight against the epidemic. Sadly, as far as anyone has stated, there is nothing in the budget to balance out the cuts either.

What We Know

The fundamental issue is that America needs to put a lot more resources into drug addiction prevention and drug addiction treatment. The Obama administration took some steps in 2015 and 2016 to add hundreds of millions and then another billion to fund the efforts, but experts still say that was also too little too late.

The fear now is that more needs to be done to empower the agencies that are on the front lines of the fight. More needs to be put into a compassionate response. Instead, Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions is advocating for a “tough on crime” attitude and endorsing the War on Drugs that has already failed the nation time and time again.

So while there is potential, and many believe Trump has an amazing opportunity to do much more than his predecessor did to create resources for battling the opioid epidemic head-on, many see these recent steps as an indication that things might get worse before they get better.

Drug abuse and addiction is a devastating and deadly disease, and providing effective and compassionate treatment makes a lifelong difference. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, think about who you want to be working with to find a real solution. Please call toll-free now.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Study Suggests Retirement Causes Substance Abuse

Study Suggests Retirement Causes Substance Abuse

Author: Justin Mckibben

I can’t speak for everyone, but I know before I came into recovery I had always joked about the fact that once I retired I would sit around and do nothing but sit in my rocking chair, drink and watch television (more specifically old Batman re-runs). While my outlook has drastically changed having experienced active addiction and recovery, there is still a significant amount of individuals out there with the same intentions, and a recent report makes a shocking inquiry about whether retirement causes substance abuse for seniors.

According to recent polls, alcohol and drug abuse rates among adults aged 65 years or older have more than doubled in the last decade! More concerning is that those rates are expected to reach even higher numbers in the years to come based off of the growing trend.

Alcohol Not the Only Problem

That conclusion alone is part of a growing number of reports on this alarming discovery. These statistics affect about 17% of the 35 million seniors in the United States. As with years before, the substance most frequently abused by this age demographic is typically alcohol. However a report from 2013 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) made the distinction that illicit drug use among adults between the ages of 50 and 64 rose from 2.7% in 2002 to 6% in 2013. That may not seem like a huge increase, but given the population and issues unique to this age group, it is very troubling.

Abusing prescription painkillers and other medications are also becoming common place for seniors. It doesn’t help that older brains and bodies are more vulnerable to drug complications.

  • 2012 the average number of seniors abusing or dependent on prescription pain relievers shot up to an estimated 336,000 which was huge from the 132,000 just a decade earlier.
  • From 2007 to 2011, annual emergency room visits by people 65 and older for prescription drug misuse rose more than 50%, reaching over 94,000 a year.
  • From 1999 to 2010, overdose deaths among those 55 and older, regardless of drug type, nearly tripled to 9.4 fatalities per 100,000 people.

The Key Elements in Retirement

Studies have shown that retirement may have the most far-ranging effect on incipient or latent substance abuse, despite the dramatic changes produced in the aging process on the human body have a significant impact on the physical effects that alcohol and drugs have on seniors and their health.

More specifically, Peter A. Bamberger and Samuel B. Bacharach found in studies on the effects of retirement and substance abuse, it is the conditions leading to retirement, and the economic and social nature of the retirement itself that can influence this kind of behavior. The major elements of comfort that enable an individual to retire and the support they receive through retirement may lead many seniors into greater drug and alcohol use. This study by Bamberger and Bacharach was conducted for the book Retirement and the Hidden Epidemic.

Seniors may also turn to substance abuse as a means of curbing feelings of loneliness, anxiety, or plain boredom, which can ultimately create more health complications, and lead to a severe addiction. Substance abuse counselor Steven Wollman chimed in and stated,

“In retirement, there can be depression, divorce, death of a spouse, moving from a big residence into a small residence. For anyone who’s an addict, [that’s] the No. 1 trigger.”

Growing Concern for Seniors

One disturbing element that hinders the medical community’s ability to properly diagnose a chemical dependency or more serious addiction is simply a lack of time. Another contributing factor is also sometimes the similarity between many normal signs of aging, like memory loss or confusion, and symptoms of substance impairment. So with the adverse health effects brought on by old age, there are many that mimic the signs of addiction or serious substance abuse, so it is difficult for many doctors to see the red flags.

When you take the time to consider all the information, it only makes sense when appreciating the variables. Some may even accidentally over-medicate, or not notice the issues with their substance abuse themselves because they confuse changes in their own bodies with health problems. Even younger people make that kind of mistake.

The SAMHSA report “Substance Abuse Among Older Adults” indicated a collective effort between clinical care specialists, individual family members, and social service care providers to be aware of these issues and to keep a close eye on their patients or loved ones may mean to represent the first line of defense against this growing problem for seniors. With the possibility of accidental misuse of medication leading to more complicated substance abuse, or of misdiagnosing elderly addicts based on symptoms similar to issues brought on by old age, there is a real need for more information on substance abuse in regards to retired and elderly individuals.

The years in retirement are meant to be a time to relax and reflect because of the efforts put in throughout a life-time, not to suffer from a drug problem. The lives of older retired men and women deserve to be as comfortable as possible, and it is never too late to make a change for the rest of your retirement. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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