There will be a rally Monday to raise awareness of the epidemic of heroin and opiate abuse. President Obama recently announced a new initiative to fight a rise in heroin use. The organizations involved in this rally are adamant to say the least. Here is their press release…

Heroin Awareness of Wyoming and the FED UP! Coalition invite you attend our rally for International Overdose Awareness Day on Monday, August 31st at Casper’s Washington Park band shell at McKinley and 10th Street, from 1:00-3:00 PM. Listen to our guest speaker Dr. Frank Del Real from Wyoming Recovery.

Hundreds of people will peacefully demonstrate their frustration with the Obama Administration’s neglect of the nation’s opioid addiction epidemic. This is one of over 40 Fed Up! rallies that will be held simultaneously across the country. Since President Obama’s first term in 2008, the United States has experienced skyrocketing rates of overdose deaths and addiction involving prescription opioids and heroin, yet the President has never once spoken publicly about the crisis. Rally organizers believe that President Obama’s failure to speak about the opioid crisis is reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s refusal to acknowledge the HIV epidemic until 1987 when 20,000 Americans had died from AIDS.

“Ronald Reagan refused to speak about AIDS because of stigma. President Obama is repeating history by refusing to speak about the opioid epidemic. How can he remain silent in the face of a mounting death toll?” said Jennifer Yates of Heroin Awareness of Wyoming. Since the President’s first term in 2008, more than 124,000 Americans have died from prescription opioid and heroin overdoses.

In April 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy held a press conference declaring an epidemic of opioid overdoses and vowing to reduce deaths by 15% in 5 years. Also announced was a plan by the administration to pursue mandatory education for prescribers in light of evidence that opioid overprescribing was fueling the crisis. However, the Obama Administration never sought funding for the plan nor was a proposal to mandate prescriber education put forward. Since 2011, instead of a decline in overdose deaths, every year overdose deaths increased and the epidemic has grown much more severe.

Protestors at the rallies are also upset with what they see as President Obama’s failure to ensure that his agencies are working together in a coordinated fashion to address the crisis. “CDC is telling us we’re consuming too many opioids yet the FDA keeps putting new ones on the market,” said Jennifer Yates of Heroin Awareness of Wyoming. Last year, the FDA was widely criticized for approving a new opioid called Zohydro over the objection of its own scientific advisors. In 2015, FDA approved two more new opioids without consulting its scientific advisory committee.

Earlier this year, the Obama Administration announced it would seek $100 million to address the opioid crisis. This was the first time the President’s budget included a request for funding to address the opioid crisis. Judy Rummler, Chair of the Fed Up! Coalition and President of the Minnesota-based Steve Rummler Hope Foundation, expressed concern that only a small portion of the funding was for addiction treatment. “For a plague that’s devastated communities across the country, he’s offering very little very late” Ms. Rummler said.