New approach needed for opioid crisis, Mitrano says

“This is a scourge; it’s affecting all of us.”

Tracy Mitrano, Democratic nominee for the 23rd Congressional District, described the opioid crisis and proposed a “multi-faceted approach to the problem” that calls for more proactive means of handling the crisis from law enforcement and healthcare professionals.

Mitrano expressed how the issue has become a deeply problematic one for the district and nation overall. She said it has widened the reach of addiction and has broken the boundaries of socioeconomic status, race, sex and other ways Mitrano said we categorize society.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 115 Americans died from an opioid overdose every day in 2016. Two-thirds of the overall overdose-related deaths that year involved opioids.

“I actually think that the opioid crisis in this country is one of the most important issues,” Mitrano said. “There simply has not been the approach that we need from the medical community, the government at all levels and law enforcement to address this public health tragedy.”

As a representative, Mitrano said she would call for more awareness from law enforcement. She said treatment at detox facilities is the logical follow-up to reviving those who overdose with Naloxone; resuscitating someone to not get a handle on the bigger problem afterwards, she said, is not addressing the crisis.

She also mentioned that law enforcement agencies both nationally and locally must work together to prevent the infestation of opiates coming from other countries, such as fentanyl from the People’s Republic of China.

“We must become clear and intentional in having the pharmaceutical companies that put profit over people be made to pay for the treatment centers for the destruction they have wrought on this country,” Mitrano said.

She highlighted that the quantity and quality of treatment centers in the district has not been enough to compassionately help those experiencing addiction and withdrawal. Mitrano said she believes a revamp in the healthcare system is where a solution to the opioid crisis must begin. She is also concerned about the inherent discrimination that occurs when there is not enough space for women and children in treatment centers.

Mitrano said there have been more than 300,000 opioid-related deaths in the United States since pharmaceutical companies began heavily prescribing the drugs. Mitrano mentioned overprescribing and apathy from politicians as main reasons the crisis has continued.

Panning Rep. Tom Reed’s, R-Corning, stance on the issue including his inclinations to label addiction as a preexisting condition and give drug traffickers the death penalty, Mitrano described his response to the opioid crisis as “callous and cruel with respect to the needs of real people.”

Although President Donald Trump has labeled the opioid epidemic as a national emergency, Mitrano doesn’t think the administration has done enough to combat opioid use either. What she described as a “legal drug trade” has made “logical people act highly illogical.”

Mitrano also commented on the use of legal injection sites to combat drug use. While they are currently illegal in New York, Mitrano would like to see them implemented because research has shown in other territories such as Canada that they can save lives and decrease drug use by bringing substances “out of the shadows.”

“It shows her extremism,” said Reed, who opposes the injection sites and calls them “wrong and dangerous.”

She said she would require safe injection sites to be open only if a city wanted one, detailed studies were done regarding its effectiveness and law enforcement and healthcare professionals strictly maintained the sites.

“We need all hands on deck to figure out this complex problem,” Mitrano said.