President Obama talks drug abuse in GA - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

President Obama talks drug abuse in GA

(Source: Jason Dennis / WTVM) (Source: Jason Dennis / WTVM)

ATLANTA (WTVM) - In downtown Atlanta Tuesday afternoon, President Obama was part of a 75-minute-long panel discussion on prescription drug abuse and heroin addiction at a national summit, an event which the President hopes shines a greater spotlight on this drug crisis.

WTVM News Leader 9 was there as the President talked about the need to make more treatment programs available tomorrow people.

President Obama told the hundreds in attendance that fighting these drugs needs to be an all hands-on approach.

"We've got to stop those who are trafficking and praying on people, but we also have to make sure our medical community, our scientific community, individuals, all of us are working together," President Obama said.

He also said the US government is doing the best they can to keep drugs from coming in from places like Mexico.

"We are now seeing synthetic opioids often times coming in from China to Mexico into the US," President Obama said. "We're having to be more aggressive there."

For this panel discussion, the President was joined on stage by a former heroin addict and a doctor. In Obama's State of the Union earlier this year, he said combating heroin use can be done through bipartisan cooperation.

"It is so much more expensive for us to not make the front and investments, because we end up with jails for the folks who can't function when I get out and peoples lives being shattered," the President said.

President Obama said healthcare providers need resources to help addicts, and a faith- based approach is critical, but there also needs to be government funding. 

Just last month, the President proposed $1.1 billion in new funding to address prescription opioid abuse and the heroin epidemic.

"It turns out it's cheaper to get hair wet on the street then it is to try to figure out how to refill that prescription, then you have a problem," President Obama said. "That's why, for all the good work Congress is doing, it's not enough just to provide a structure for more treatment, there has to be actual funding for the treatment."

In front of a big crowd in Atlanta, he pointed to the fact that more Americans die each year from drug overdoses than they do in car crashes.

With children in high school himself, President Obama said he knows how they and many others have easy access to illegal drugs, in all parts of the nation.

"This is not something that's just resorted to a small set of communities, it's affecting everybody - young, old, men, women, children, role, urban, suburban," he said.

Before the President's panel, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy talked at the National Rx drug abuse and heroin summit about everyone doing their part to put an end to this epidemic.

"Addiction is not a moral failing, but a chronic illness," Dr. Murthy said.

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