President Donald Trump will direct his Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency under the Public Health Service Act.
That’s according to senior White House officials, who were not authorized to publicly discuss plans before the announcement and briefed journalists on condition of anonymity.
The declaration does not come with specific funding. But officials say it will allow changes such as expended access to medical services in rural areas.
Trump will deliver a speech Thursday on fighting the opioid crisis. He’s said an emergency designation will give his administration the “power to do things that you can’t do right now.”
Trump pledged during his campaign to make fighting addiction a top priority at rallies in some of the hardest-hit states.
Opioids cover a range of drugs – from prescription pain pills, heroin, morphine, and fentanyl.
Earlier in the year, Arizona’s Department of Health began tracking opioid overdoses in real time. Since June 1, there have been 471 suspected opioid deaths, and nearly 3,600 suspected overdoses.
In addition, more than 300 infants have been born addicted to opioids.
Five years ago, Nick Controne didn’t know a way out.
“I was broken completely, just willing to do whatever,” said Controne. “I was just broken.”
Lost and broken, addicted to opiates, his life going in a downward spiral, Controne said he was so very close to the edge.
“As close as you can be,” said Controne.
Controne found his path out through Valley Hope. At that point, he was homeless with nothing but an itch for more drugs.
“I knew that there was a better way of life,” said Controne.
He sees that way now. Controne is now five years sober, and working with Valley Hope to help others who were once in the same sunken place.