Staying on the defensive – 

April 10, 2020 – Only three months ago, when reported U.S. coronavirus cases were in the single digits, the Trump administration celebrated some rare good news in the battle against opioids. It reported overdose deaths in 2018 were down 4 percent from the previous year, which marked the first drop in fatal overdoses in nearly three decades and helped contribute to the first increase in U.S. life expectancy in four years.

“We need to make sure we don’t lose ground,” said Elinore McCance-Katz, Trump’s top mental health official. “I’m worried about it so much so that I’ve spent a lot of my time over the last week addressing the issue.”

That progress is in jeopardy, experts say, as social distancing rules and fears of the virus hamper traditional treatment efforts, including syringe exchange programs, peer counseling and medication-assisted treatment.

“It’s a bit ironic because many felt that we are at an inflection point and finally starting to turn the corner and reverse opioid related harms,” said Caleb Alexander, co-director of Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness.



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