In the 1995 movie Apollo 13, Tom Hanks made “Houston, we have a problem…” a part of our cultural lexicon.
Twenty-one years later Virginia’s Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that State Health Commissioner, Marissa Levine, declared on November 21st that the opioid addiction crisis in Virginia was a “Public Health Emergency.”
As chairman of the Virginia Consumer Healthcare Alliance, I can attest to the breadth and depth of this “problem.” Since the end of October, VCHA has held dialogues in Abingdon, Winchester, and Danville. There has been one common theme to the concerns raised by the attendees at our breakfasts – Virginia has a problem with opioid addiction.
The stories were heart breaking – three to four addicted newborns daily reside in a Winchester hospital, ninety percent of job applicants failing a drug test in Abingdon, and financial lives ruined in Danville. So we headed to the leading addiction recovery organization in Virginia, if not America, the McShin Foundation in Richmond. McShin was recently highlighted on CBS’ Face The Nation. Talk about eye-opening!
There are 23 million Americans in active drug and alcohol recovery and another 22 million who need it!
I wrote in the Richmond Times Dispatch a week after the election in November that we needed to get out of the trench warfare political battles and get a “win” – politically speaking
Virginia, we have a problem. In fact, it’s a “Public Health Emergency.” We have very little time in this year’s General Assembly session to meaningfully address this “Emergency.”
Congress is getting ready to change just about every law that touches health care as it considers the Affordable Care Act – again.
I hope that we do not look past the “Emergency” that affects every street, neighborhood, and school in the Commonwealth – the crisis of addiction.
As Sarah Melton, a pharmacist said at the Abingdon breakfast “Addiction is a disease, not a moral failure.”
Let’s not fail to address the “Emergency” now.
If you want to voice your support to urge the General Assembly to make the opioid crisis its top priority, please click here.