NSC offers Trump, Biden a plan for tackling opioid overdose epidemic


Itasca, IL — The National Safety Council is calling on both 2020 U.S. presidential campaigns to adopt, as part of their COVID-19 pandemic recovery strategies, the council’s comprehensive plan to combat the national opioid overdose epidemic.

NSC, in collaboration with more than 60 other organizations, in February released the National Plan to Address Opioid Misuse for presidential candidates “to ensure opioid misuse in the U.S. is addressed thoroughly, thoughtfully and effectively.” The coalition urges the candidates and their campaigns to “examine their existing strategies and close gaps, or adopt this plan in full for the safety and well-being of the constituents they are vying to represent and protect.”

In a letter sent Sept. 25 to President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, NSC President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin urges the candidates to discuss their strategies around prevention, treatment and the employer role in ending the opioid crisis during the Sept. 29 debate in Cleveland – a state hard hit by the epidemic.

In June, 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use, and 13% reported starting or increasing substance use, Martin writes in the letter, citing a study published Aug. 14 in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Martin also highlights a recent study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, that found individuals with substance use disorders are more susceptible to COVID-19 and its complications. Lastly, according to an American Medical Association issue brief, more than 40 states have reported an increase in opioid overdose fatalities since the pandemic began.

“All of these factors indicate the continued need for a unified national strategy to combat the overdose crisis,” Martin writes.

In a Sept. 25 press release, Jenny Burke, senior director of impairment practice at NSC, adds: “A national plan to combat the overdose crisis must be part of the broader national strategy to recover from this pandemic and continue after a vaccine is widely deployed.”

The recommendations in the plan take into account the many players, factors and systems that have a role in the lifecycle of addiction – from prevention to recovery, from education to the criminal justice system, from prescribers to employers. NSC urges both campaigns to adopt the plan in full and detail the following to the American people:

  • How the candidate’s pandemic response plan will address the consequences of increasing opioid use disorder rates.
  • How the candidate will support employers as they work to prevent opioid misuse and support employees in treatment and recovery.
  • How the candidate will increase services to underserved and vulnerable populations that have increased risks of developing a substance use disorder and more difficulty accessing treatment and recovery support services.