PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency Thursday.
Carmen Capozzi, of Irwin, lost his son Sage to heroin addiction.
“We have nothing to be embarrassed about. I was proud of my son. My son was a hard worker, he was active in his school stuff,” said Capozzi.
Since Sage’s passing, Capozzi has made it his mission to educate and help others battling addiction.
“So many families are silent because of the stigma. What I say is silence kills. Bring it to light and the enemy flees,” said Capozzi.
He founded Sage’s Army, Inc. which advocates for awareness, compassion and action.
As Capozzi was sharing his story at Duquesne University’s symposium, called “The Face of the Person with an Addiction,” it was mirroring what was being said at the White House.
“This can happen to any of us. Drug addiction can take your friends, neighbors, and your family,” said First Lady Melania Trump.
President Trump made history Thursday in elevating the crisis to a priority level like never before.
“My administration is officially declaring the opioid crisis a national public health emergency under federal law and that is why I am directing all federal agencies to use every appropriate emergency authority to fight the opioid crisis,” said President Donald Trump.
Capozzi hopes the President’s declaration will allow federal money to support lengthier local treatment programs, more education, and after-care. Sage died from a relapse.
“We need longer treatment, longer stays, we’ve got faith-based groups that are doing one year programs and they work,” said Capozzi.
Sage is not alone.
The president told the country last year 11 million Americans used heroin.
“Last year, we lost at least 64,000 Americans to overdose deaths. That’s one in 75 lost lives per day. That’s seven lost lives per hour in our country,” said President Trump.
With so many complicated parts, it’s clear a solution won’t come anytime soon, but Americans seem to agree we must work together to stop it.
“We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic. We can do it,” said President Trump.
Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro tells the “KDKA Morning News” President Trump’s announcement is, “a step in the right direction,” but more needs to be done.
“There’s no funding…he tapped a fund with $56,000 in it, which isn’t enough for Pittsburgh, let alone Pennsylvania, or the United States,” said Shapiro.
Another thing the president can do, according to Shapiro, is to create better access to treatment by changing a law called the IMD Exclusion.
“It’s a 1960s law that says Medicaid won’t reimburse for drug and alcohol treatment in facilities where there are more than 16 beds,” said Shapiro.
Shapiro says he has joined 39 other Attorneys General and members of Congress to strike the law down and “opens up Medicaid funding to create assess to drug and alcohol treatment.”