Last month, President Trump formally declared the opioid crisis a “health emergency.” Since his campaign for president, and recently in the past few months, Trump signaled his intentions to significantly combat the national epidemic. But what does it mean to declare the opioid crisis a “health emergency?”
By now, all of us have been touched in some way by the opioid epidemic in the United States. While there is ample medical science, social science, and political science to explain the phenomenon of addiction, our anecdotal personal experience shapes our ethical judgments. Is addiction a choice or a disease? If it is a disease, is it acquired because of voluntary behavior, or caused by biological or societal factors? Can addicts simply stop using drugs?