Recovery community reacts to President's emergency declaration for opioid addiction

President Donald Trump has declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency opening up the use of federal dollars to help people struggling with addiction.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 91 people in the U.S. die from opiates every day. That is why the recovery community said declaring opioid abuse a national emergency is long overdue.

Robert Golston is one of millions of Americans that has struggled with addiction.

“70 days ago, I was contemplating suicide and I didn't really have anywhere else to turn. I actually called a place and said if they didn't call me back by the end of the day, I was just going to do it,” Golston said.    

After breaking his ankle at 16 years old, Robert was prescribed painkillers. He started taking them so often; he lost a basketball scholarship and spent the next eleven years fighting a battle more than 50,000 people in the U.S. lose every year.

“It's definitely been an epidemic in my life and the people I've seen usually don't come back from it,” said Golston.

“It's really the most serious public health crisis this country has faced in a very long time,” said Robin Peyson, executive director for Communities for Recovery. 

The opiate epidemic is finally getting some national attention, because, Thursday, President Donald Trump declared it a national emergency.

"We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of money on the opioid crisis," the president said. 

“I really welcome the news that President Trump has declared the current opioid epidemic a public health crisis. I really believe that it's overdue and that we really needed to have that kind of national emphasis,” Peyson said. 

It's the first time substance abuse has had that declaration in the nation's history. Doing so will make federal funds available to help treat opioid addiction, but President Trump's words when it comes to preventing addiction have the recovery community a little worried.

"If they don't start, they won't have a problem. If they do start, it's awfully tough to get off. So if we can keep them from going on and maybe by talking to youth and telling them: 'No good, really bad for you in every way,'" the president said.

“That has the ring of the ‘Just Say No’ campaign and we know, clearly, that the ‘Just Say No’ campaign was not effective and that approach would still not be effective,” said Peyson.

Instead, recovering addicts like Robert hope the government focuses on something else.

“I think treatment, the right kind of treatment, in-depth treatment, getting down to the causes and conditions of why I started using in the first place, is what's been most helpful,” Golston said. 

After all it is thanks to treatment that Robert has spent the last 71 days turning his life around.

“I'm really glad to be alive today, to be alive and to be able to help other people and be there for other people in ways that people were there for me,” said Golston.

Trump said he will be drawing up documents to formalize the declaration soon.

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