President Trump declares opioid epidemic public health emergency

(KLTV) - Thursday President Trump declared the US opioid epidemic a public health emergency.

According to President Trump, "Last year we lost at least 64,000 Americans to overdoses. That is 175 lost American lives per day. That is seven lost lives per hour."

While the president says he plans to crack down on fentanyl abuse, in East Texas emergency rooms, doctors tend to see more pill abuse.

ETMC Emergency Room Dr. Bradley King says, "We don't have the numbers of opioid overdose deaths, but we certainly have a problem with opioid abuse here."

Dr. King says doctors should be familiar with the signs of abuse.

"Probably the single thing that sticks out the most are people's repeat visits to healthcare providers with strong demands for narcotics."

The public health emergency announcement will ease some laws and regulations and allow the Department of Health and Human Services to reallocate some grant money to battle opioid abuse, but Dr. King says doctors need to change too.

"We need to do a better job of taking the time to talk to people about their conditions, to talk to people about what to expect, other strategies of managing their pain… and then appropriate narcotics for as short of a period of time as possible."

Since taking office, President Trump has convened a presidential commission to review potential solutions. A report from the commission is expected by the President next week.

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