P.A.A.R.I. Leaders On-Hand as President Trump Declares National Public Health Emergency on Opioids

John Rosenthal, Co-founder & Chairman
186 Main Street
Gloucester, MA 01930

For Immediate Release

Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017

Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 617-993-0003

P.A.A.R.I. Leaders On-Hand as President Trump Declares National Public Health Emergency on Opioids

WASHINGTON — Leaders of the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.) today stood on stage with President Donald Trump as he declared a Nationwide Public Health Emergency in response to the opioid epidemic that is claiming more than 175 American lives every day as a result of opioid overdose deaths.

“It is fitting that we stood to witness a major announcement from the President, as it was municipal law enforcement that declared two and a half years ago that the opioid epidemic was a public health crisis and disease that required a comprehensive national response as well as treatment not jail,” said Arlington, Massachusetts Police Chief Frederick Ryan, Chairman of the P.A.A.R.I. Police Council. “I am extraordinarily pleased that this epidemic will receive the national attention it so badly needs on all fronts from the federal government.”

Chief Ryan, along with P.A.A.R.I. Executive Director Allie Hunter McDade and P.A.A.R.I. Partner and Olmsted Township, Ohio Police Chief Matthew Vanyo were at the White House today when President Trump made a sweeping declaration that, if adequately funded with new resources, is poised to reshape federal drug policy and save lives.

The President’s declaration falls short of declaring a national public health emergency but if followed will mobilize the federal government to directly address the opioid epidemic. The action allows for expanded access to telemedicine services, including services involving remote prescribing of medicine commonly used for substance use disorders or mental health treatment. The action also makes it easier to allocate additional desperately needed funding, support staff and hire additional recovery workers.

“The key takeaway from this new declaration is that it could remove a lot of the red tape and immediately make more money, resources, and staff available to directly address this epidemic. The President’s action supports the core mission of save lives from preventable overdose deaths and expand access to long term treatment. We are proud to have been invited to the White House and hope that the president’s declaration today is followed up with adequate funding to seriously address the growing opioid crisis in America,” Hunter McDade said.

Since 2000, over 300,000 Americans have died from overdoses involving opioids.
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury death in the United States, outnumbering both traffic crashes and gun-related deaths.

In 2015, there were 52,404 drug overdose deaths — 33,091 of those deaths, almost two-thirds, involved the use of opioids. The opioid epidemic is getting worse every day, with drug overdose deaths in 2016 expected to exceed 64,000. This represents a rate of 175 deaths a day.

This annual number of overdose deaths exceeds the number of Americans killed during the over nine year Vietnam War.

Today’s Presidential Memorandum directs the Health and Human Services secretariat to consider opioids a public health emergency and directs all agency heads in the executive branch to exercise all appropriate emergency and other authorities to reduce the deaths and devastation caused by the opioid crisis. Agencies are expected to announce specific measures and programs in the coming days and weeks.

“The opioid epidemic is the most urgent public health and public safety issue we face today, as a country and as law enforcement, killing more than 175 Americans every single day,” said, PAARI co-founder, John Rosenthal. “The opioid epidemic has been allowed to fester for decades without appropriate federal action and it is going to take significant new funding and resources in order to distribute life-saving naloxone to every first responder and to create a national opioid addiction treatment system like exists for every other chronic disease including cancer, heart disease and diabetes. The President’s declaration is a recognition of the epidemic but without major funding and specific action, nothing will help stop the mounting overdose deaths every day in every community across America”.

In August P.A.A.R.I.’s law enforcement members urged the federal government to declare a Public Health Emergency. Declaring a public health emergency is not only a symbolic recognition of the severity and urgency of this crisis, but also will mobilize the highest levels of the government to take immediate and effective action to deploy the resources required to save lives.

Recognizing that traditional criminal justice approaches to addiction have not been effective and that the nation cannot arrest its way out of the opioid epidemic, P.A.A.R.I. is leading a nationwide movement led by law enforcement that recognizes addiction is a chronic disease that needs long-term treatment, not arrest and jail. So far, 321 police departments from across the county have joined P.A.A.R.I. and created pre-arrest programs that create immediate and stigma-free entry points to treatment and recovery programs. Together, the organization has also distributed 10,000 4mg doses of life-saving nasal naloxone to first responders and helped over 12,000 people into treatment across the Country. These programs save lives from preventable overdose deaths, make our communities safer, build community trust of their police, and save law enforcement and taxpayer funds.

P.A.A.R.I.’s law enforcement partners are on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, doing everything they can to grapple with this mounting crisis. The organization is honored that P.A.A.R.I. representatives were invited to have a seat at the table to share our experiences and educate the administration and lawmakers about the success of P.A.A.R.I.’s approach to saving lives.

About P.A.A.R.I.:
The Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.) is a 501c3 nonprofit with a mission to help law enforcement agencies establish pre-arrest programs that create immediate and stigma-free entry points to treatment and recovery programs. P.A.A.R.I. works across sectors to provide training, coaching, and support; program models, policies and procedures, and templates; seed grants; connections to over 300 vetted treatment centers; a network of like-minded law enforcement agencies; a unified voice with media and legislators; and capacity building through AmeriCorps. P.A.A.R.I. is free to join and open to any law enforcement agency that believes in treatment over arrest and views addiction as a disease not a crime. Since June 2015, P.A.A.R.I. has launched more than 320 law enforcement programs in 31 states, distributed 10,000 4mg doses of life-saving nasal naloxone, and helped over 12,000 people into treatment.