Leaders gather in Washington to fight opioid crisis

National & World News

Local officials from several states are meeting at the White House to cover a range of topics, including tackling the opioid epidemic.

“What can we be doing that’s more effective at the local level, that’s number one and then number two, is what additional resources can we get from the federal government,” says Christian Ziegler.

Ziegler is a county commissioner from Sarasota, Florida – an area hit hard by pill pushing at the height of the opioid epidemic.

“It’s really important that we think of this as an addiction crisis,” says Jim Carroll, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Carroll spent Thursday meeting with officials like Ziegler.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen this kind of outreach to the local level from a level of government above us,” Ziegler says.

Recent data shows overdose deaths dropped last year by five percent – the first time a decrease has happened in 30 years. Federal officials say this is proof of success, and say some states have done even better.

“Florida is about six and a half percent reduction,” Carroll says. “In Alabama, they’ve actually doubled the national average at about 11 percent reduction.”

But data also shows an uptick in abuse of other drugs like meth, especially in rural areas. This is another issue local agencies are concerned about.

“Some of these officials that we’re meeting with today are from some rural areas. They don’t get a lot of resources. They don’t get a lot of attention. That’s why we’re meeting with them,” Carroll says.

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