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Help coming to deal with opioid epidemic, but is it enough?

Action will cut bureaucracy, with no new funds

MADISON, Wis. - The declaration by President Trump of the opioid epidemic as a national public health emergency will bring resources to help deal with the problem, but advocates question whether it is enough.

“This is a good step.  It is going to ease some bureaucratic policies and procedures that will allow the grant money that’s already been allocated to the opioid epidemic to come faster to the communities that need it,” said Skye Tikkanen, drug poison prevention manager for Safe Communities.

The president’s actions will also expedite telehealth services, which will be beneficial, especially for rural communities where health care is limited.

Tikkanen understands better than most the significance of providing enough help to those battling addiction.

“I’m a person in long-term recovery from opioid addiction and one of my community members loses their life every 16 minutes in this country,” said Tikkanen.

The opioid epidemic is also an issue for the HIV community.

“People who are using heroin might be injecting that drug.  The sharing of needles from injection drug use is a primary HIV transmission route,” said Bill Keeton, vice president of government and public relations for Aids Resource Center of Wisconsin.

Keeton believes part of the president’s proposal will allow for shifting of federal HIV funds to help provide addiction treatment for individuals with HIV.

“Honestly what we need at the point is more resources.  Shifting funds and reprioritizing them is a good first step.  Making sure there are new resources available is really what we need to do to make sure we’re tackling this epidemic head-on,” said Keeton.


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