Modified: August 25, 2016 10:07am
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz joined his colleagues on the National City-County Task Force on the Opioid Epidemic last week in Covington, Kentucky for the group’s second meeting. The Task Force is preparing a final report to be presented to Congress and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy which will include a review of policy recommendations for federal, state, and local officials along with nationwide best practices aimed at decreasing the rates of prescription drug abuse and heroin use in communities across the country.
The report, to be published in October, will center on four areas in the fight against opioid abuse: leadership, prevention and education, treatment and community wellness, and public safety and law enforcement.
“The Task Force is bringing a national perspective to a problem that is affecting communities all across the country, including here in Western New York,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “Erie County is at the forefront of confronting the opioid crisis, and many of the actions we have taken will be included as recommended actions to be taken by communities across the nation. The work we are doing locally and as a part of this national Task Force will help to create stronger, healthier communities and a healthier nation.”
Task Force Co-Chair Judge/Executive Gary Moore of Boone County, Ky., said, “It is a testament to the hard work of this group that we have been able to make such progress on sharing our local lessons learned in combating this scourge where it is occurring, in counties and cities across the United States.”
The Task Force also saw first-hand the impacts of the opioid crisis on Northern Kentucky by visiting facilities involved in the treatment of individuals struggling with addiction, and engaged with those who operate these facilities to hear about the hurdles they face in providing needed services.
Additionally, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli addressed the group on Saturday and engaged in a detailed discussion with Task Force members on recent federal actions taken to address the opioid issue.
Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with more than 47,000 lethal drug overdoses in 2014. This epidemic is driven largely by overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers (18,893) and deaths related to heroin (10,574).
The National Association of Counties (“NaCo”) announced the creation of the task force at its Legislative Conference in February and joined the National League of Cities (“NLC”) in naming the 24-member task force at NLC’s Congressional City Conference in March. The joint group convened for the first time in April in Washington, D.C.