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The time for talk is over

In October, President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency, promising to “liberate” Americans from the “scourge of addiction.”

However, as a recent National Public Radio report pointed out, a concrete plan of action has yet to take form in the following months.

Recently, Trump has said that efforts to combat the epidemic will take the form of increased law enforcement, rather that boosting treatment and rehabilitation services. Health professionals have criticized this shift in strategy.

Earlier, the Trump administration formed a blue ribbon committee, chaired by then-Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. The committee issued dozens of recommendations for the administration, few of which have been followed up on, including a call to increase substance abuse treatment.

While enforcement plays a role in reducing the spread of opioids, treatment should still be central to any effort.

Those facing addiction are the husbands, wives, sons, daughters, neighbors and friends of many of us. Here in Lawrence County, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who has not known a person caught in the epidemic.

More resources are needed and efforts should be stepped up to try to rehabilitate these people and help them to lead productive lives. Simply throwing people in jail is not the answer.

Several key posts remain vacant. The Trump administration has yet to nominate anyone to fill the job of head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the administration has yet to submit a new nominee to head the Office of national Drug Control Policy after their previous choice withdrew from consideration.

But what has drawn the most criticism is the fact that the White House has not asked Congress for any new funding to tackle the opioid crisis, which saw an estimated 10,000 overdoses in Ohio alone in 2017.

It is our hope that this administration quickly moves on this issue and begins to develop a comprehensive strategy to take on this epidemic. Too many lives have been lost and inaction is simply not acceptable.