With the launch of a new task force, the National Association of Counties and the National League of Cities are working together on an issue that’s increasingly been spotlighted in the political world: the rise of opioid abuse in both prescription and illicit forms.
The problem of opioid abuse is becoming hard to ignore politically—something highlighted by a recent National Governors Association meeting where the issue took center stage.
But even below the state level, local governments on the front lines of the crisis want to tackle the issue more effectively—and that involves working together. Last month, the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National League of Cities (NLC) announced a plan to create a task force dedicated to taking on the epidemic.
The associations, which each named 12 members to the task force earlier this week, said they would share successful tactics to improve community response to the issue and would better educate the public about the dangers of abuse and how to dispose of dangerous medications.
“We see the devastating effects of prescription drug abuse and heroin use because counties are at the intersection of the local health, justice and public safety systems,” NACo President Sallie Clark said in a statement last month. “Addressing this issue is a top priority for local leaders. This new initiative will build on our efforts to mitigate this crisis and strengthen the safety and security of our neighborhoods.”
NLC President Melodee Colbert-Kean, who will take part in the task force as a Joplin, Missouri, council member, emphasized that the associations (and the communities they represent) are well-suited to taking on the problem.
“Our cities are at the forefront of the opioid and heroin crisis in America. It’s up to our city and county leaders to face this epidemic head on,” Colbert-Kean said in a statement.