What opioid public health emergency declaration means for Pueblo

What opioid public health emergency...

President Donald Trump says we can't continue to allow the opioid crisis to continue.

"Nobody has seen anything like what's going on now," Trump said on Thursday in the East Room of the White House.

He called for a public health emergency.

But the order doesn't mean immediate federal funding. It simply directs agencies to use grant money already in their budgets.

For the Pueblo City and County Health Department, an agency that deals with opioid addiction on a epidemic level, it's a move that just might make a difference.

"Our law enforcement is talking with treatment centers, our District Attorney's office is talking to law enforcement and legislators. So those conversations have been had. This might potentiate or speed up their ability to act," said Lynn Procell with the Health Department. 

But Dr. Mike Nerenberg, who works for the needle exchange in Pueblo, said Thursday's announcement has no teeth because there is no funding to back it.

"It doesn't mean anything. It's a publicity stunt," Nerenberg said.

He said unlocking grant money isn't enough. An effective treatment plan needs to be established.

"All the treatments up till now have all been a 30-day or a 90-day rehab and then you're cured, bye, and that's just not effective," Nerenberg said.

But. he said the solution is in sight thanks to the people who are coming together locally.

"There's movement from law enforcement. There's movement from the city and county governments if those movements continue, yes I think we can turn this around," Nerenberg said.

The Health Department believes the public health emergency designation is a step in the right direction because it will allow conversations that might not have been able to happen before.

Trump also stressed the need for further enforcement of drug laws and linked his planned wall along the U.S.-Mexico border with efforts to stem the tide of illegal drugs coming into the United States.

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