Local addiction specialists still waiting for federal support to trickle down

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President Donald Trump at the podium

President Donald Trump speaks during an event to declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017, in Washington. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo)

The one-year anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration is this Saturday.

NewsWorks Tonight has been exploring how the administration has handled a number of critical issues over the past year and Elana Gordon, reporter for WHYY’s The Pulse, joined the show to weigh in on the local response to federal action.

The federal response to opioid addiction got its first major thrust when President Barack Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act, opening up funding. Trump campaigned on the issue, and continued to be vocal once he took office, declaring a national public health emergency and establishing an opioid taskforce.

But locally, addiction specialists are saying federal efforts are taking a long time to trickle down. Michael Harle heads one of the biggest treatment centers in the region and state – Gaudenzia. He says while increased attention to the issue is great, at the end of the day, you can’t solve the issue all at once. “We do not have enough resources, my staff are underpaid and overwhelmed generally.” He says, “It’s been going on for a while, but there’s been a lot of discussion about what to do with not a lot of real serious actions.”

Another point of skepticism for many treatment professionals is conflicting messages coming from different levels of government. State and city officials are moving toward using harm-reduction models of treatment and identifying addiction as a disease. On the flip side, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a clear, enforcement-oriented approach.

To hear Elana Gordon’s conversation with NewsWorks Tonight’s Mary Cummings-Jordan, listen to the audio above.

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