White House drug commission calls for widespread reforms to anti-drug policy

A White House commission on the opioid crisis called for a wide swath of policy changes that it said the United States must undertake to quell the rising epidemic of opioid addictions.
By Miriam Griffin | Nov 03, 2017
Less incarceration, more access to non-opioid pain relief, and technology tools that detect when patients try to buy too many prescriptions were among the 50 recommendations that the White House's advisory body on the opioid crisis presented Wednesday for stemming the rising tide of addictions across the country. The commission, headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, called for medical-system, judicial, and law-enforcement reforms to both deter opioid overuse and steer patients who abuse opioids into treatment.
Christie spoke during the commission's final meeting, which approved the report, about ending the shame and ostracizing that people with drug addiction frequently experience. He noted the sympathy his mother received when her lifelong cigarette addiction gave her cancer and said that she would have gotten no such sympathy if she had been hooked on narcotics.
"Stigma is real, and it's not something we can just talk about," he said.
In their recommendations, Christie and fellow commissioners called for expanding drug courts, an alternative court system that puts convicted offenders in treatment programs instead of jail when possible. Currently, fewer than half of the nation's court jurisdictions have any drug courts, they noted.
The commission also suggested requiring doctors to complete training on providing opioids safely before they can prescribe them and mandating that they check prescription-drug-monitoring databases to make sure that their patients are not buying extra prescriptions.
Doctors should also give more consideration to alternatives to opioids, the committee further recommended. It suggested some modifications to health-insurance policies nationwide to incentivize the alternatives, as wellmany plans make it cheaper to take opioids than to undergo physical therapy or other treatments that might resolve pain problems more effectively, the commission said.

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