Drug czar meets with local officials to discuss opioid epidemic

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WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Officials from several states were at the White House Thursday to discuss a range of topics, including the battle over opioids.

Federal officials say they’ve been aggressive in fighting the drug scourge. Some local leaders say they are the ones left facing the epidemic on the streets.

“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?” asked Christian Ziegler, a county commissioner from Sarasota, Florida. His community was hit hard by pill pushing at the height of the opioid epidemic.

“Its really important that we think of this as an addiction crisis,” said Jim Carroll, Director of National Drug Control Policy. He 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,” said Ziegler.

Recent data show overdose deaths dropped last year by five percent, the first time a decrease has happened in 30 years. Officials say that’s proof of success and say some states have done even better.

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

Data also show an uptick in abuse of other drugs, like meth, especially in rural areas. That’s 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,” said Director Carroll.

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