Locals unhappy with Trump’s opioid declaration

Recorder Staff
Published: 10/29/2017 8:20:46 PM

GREENFIELD — Local advocates aren’t fully satisfied with the president’s declaration of opioid abuse as a national public health emergency, criticizing Donald Trump for not allotting sufficient funds for the crisis.

After months of talk, with the opioid epidemic continuing to grab headlines nationally and locally, President Donald Trump took some action Thursday. At the direction of the president, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will declare a public health emergency for a limited, but renewable timeframe, 90 days. Instead of extra federal money funneling into agencies to address the issue, for now, nothing additional has been allocated for the epidemic.

The Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin expressed its dissatisfaction with Trump’s move.

“The President’s declaration does not go far enough to ensure that individuals, families and communities get the crucial treatment and recovery services needed to combat the impact of opioid addiction,” Task Force Coordinator Debra McLaughlin said in a statement.

Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan, a co-chair of the task force, echoed McLaughlin’s sentiments.

Previously when Trump announced that he would declare a national emergency over the opioid epidemic, back in August, Sullivan lauded the president’s apparent intention, saying it was “heartening news,” and that “additional funding can certainly help support our existing initiatives.”

Now that months have passed and a declaration has been made, the task force is colder in its reception to the crisis.

“This epidemic is devastating,” McLaughlin said. “We need all the tools and resources we can get to provide help, especially in our rural area.”

Here in Franklin County, there was a 90 percent uptick in deaths by opioids from 2014 to 2015, according to most recent state data, from 10 to 19.

Early reports of the death totals in 2016 show that Franklin County was one of two counties in the state, including Bristol, that saw a dip in its numbers. The county dropped down to 15 deaths, still well over any numbers other than 2015.

Local advocate, founder of EndTheStigma and member of the task force, Sarah Ahern was more optimistic.

Ahern, who had handed off a plan for a national emergency to the president’s administration, said that by declaring this, albeit for just 90 days, it showed “proof they actually listened to our stories of loss and recovery.”

“It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction,” Trump said in an address Thursday, declaring the emergency. “We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.”

But Ahern still wants to see all of the necessary funds allocated for this solution to start making headway.

“Until then everything is speculatory regarding funding and resources except what has been heard verbatim by POTUS,” Ahern said.

Reach Joshua Solomon at:


413-772-0261, ext. 264


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