President Obama spoke yesterday about the fight against addiction, saying that he and his family could easily be in the position that millions of families across the nation are in, fighting opiate addiction in their homes.
“I did stuff, and I've been very honest about it,” he said during a speach in West Virginia, a state that has been especially hard hit by the opiate epidemic. “So when I think about it, there but for the grace of God.”
Obama said that when he first learned the statistics around drug addiction – including that more people die nationally from overdoses than from car crashes – he was struck by how prevalent addiction is.
“I was stunned by the statistics,” he said.
Obama outlined changes that he hopes will help curb overdose addiction rates, which have skyrocketed during his time in office. These include requiring federal prescibers to be educated about safely prescribing opiates, and ensuring that legislation that allows equal insurance coverage for addiction treatment is enforced. The president also announced that his administration has asked for an additional $133 million in the federal budget for enhanced treatment and prevention programs.
This crisis is taking lives,” Obama said. “It's destroying families…. one of the problems is that too many families suffer in silence.”
Before listening to stories from lcoal families who are battling addiction, the President suggested that the war on drugs needs to shift focus to prevention.
“One of my goals when I came into office was to restore a sense of balance when it comes to drugs, illegal and legal,” he said. “For a long time, treatment was a second class citizen to interdiction and arrest.”