Focus should be on all sources of addiction

Focus should be on all sources of addiction

President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency at the end of October and pledged: "We will overcome addiction in America."Addiction consists of a wide range of substances beyond opioids.

Further, President Trump's current concerns about the opioid epidemic appear to be driven by the epidemic's disproportional impacts on his political base — rural, white communities hard hit by economic stagnation.

Historically, this narrow approach of focusing on one type of substance has resulted in negative outcomes for other vulnerable populations that are addicted to substances viewed less favorably by the public.

For example, more than 80 percent of the defendants sentenced for crack offenses are African-American (ACLU, 2006). During that same time period, law enforcement turned a blind eye toward white people who were addicted to powder cocaine.

For these individuals, treatment was the preferred approach. Why?

The empathy that's being shown toward people addicted to opioids and their families should be extended to all people experiencing an addiction, regardless of the type of SUD. The disease of addiction affects all walks of life and does not discriminate by substance. The only way to overcome and combat addiction in the U.S. is to treat the disease regardless of substance.

As someone in recovery, I wish that everyone understood that people with SUDs do not suffer from a moral deficiency, but rather a mental health disorder, regardless of their substance of choice or how they became addicted to it.