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“Tough Talk” Won’t End the Opioid Epidemic, We Need #TreatmentNotTragedy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 8, 2017

CONTACT: Lacy Crawford  | 252-292-6088 |

Statement from Jessica Jackson Sloan, National Director of #cut50, in response to President Trump’s opioid announcement: 

It is time to put politics aside and save lives but today’s briefing and President Trump’s remarks struck the wrong notes. We need immediate action not more “tough talk” if we are going to come together and end the opioid epidemic.

The quickest and most effective way to slow the rapid rise of accidental overdose deaths is to expand access to treatment - in every community and for every individual that needs it, especially those who are incarcerated in our prisons and jails.

People who return to society following incarceration are 130 times more likely to die of an overdose in the first two weeks after their release than the population as a whole. Tens of thousands of people will experience withdrawal from opioids while they are incarcerated - and a very large number will die because of inadequate care or treatment for addiction behind bars.

We once expected people to go cold turkey and will their way out of addiction. Today, there is an increasing understanding that opioid addiction is a chronic brain disease that needs to be treated with medication, the same way that asthma, diabetes, and other conditions are managed.

We cannot incarcerate our way out of a public health crisis. The time is now to decriminalize the disease of addiction and provide treatment to those who are justice-involved, saving both lives and money.

I am disappointed that the President has not yet declared a State of Emergency, as recommended by the Opioid Commission led by Chris Christie. We need immediate federal action to remove barriers to treatment and free up federal resources to save lives.


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