Press Room

ASTHO Provides Recommendations to President’s Commission on Opioids

ARLINGTON, VA (June 20, 2017)—The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) appreciates recent actions taken by Congress and President Trump to address opioid misuse, including last week’s meeting of the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. ASTHO and its members stand ready to work with the commission, chaired by Gov. Chris Christie, as it prepares to make recommendations to the president later this year for improving our nation’s response to the opioid epidemic.

“Collectively, states and territories recognize the opioid crisis as a public health emergency and now, as with any emergency, we must respond with the resources necessary to sustain a full continuum of care and ensure that proven prevention, treatment, and recovery services are used consistently,” says ASTHO President Jay Butler. “To do that, we need to work with other government agencies, healthcare providers, law enforcement, and local, state, and national organizations to counteract stigma and view addiction as a chronic health condition that affects the brain. Just like asthma or diabetes, if we apply appropriate, evidence-based strategies, addiction is both preventable and treatable.”

State and territorial health officials play an important role in promoting multipronged, government-wide solutions to prevent and intervene in this public health crisis that affects virtually every community in America. On June 16, ASTHO sent a letter to Gov. Christie outlining five recommendations for the commission’s consideration, emphasizing the vital work of state and territorial health agencies, including:

  • Expanding and strengthening primary prevention and education strategies.
  • Reducing and controlling access to prescription and illicit opioids.
  • Improving monitoring and surveillance of drug addiction and opioid misuse and overdose.
  • Promoting multi-program, government-wide approaches to combatting opioid misuse.
  • Improving access to and use of effective treatment and recovery support.

These recommendations are integral to the 2017 ASTHO President’s Challenge, a national effort to unite public health leaders and foster public and private commitment to prevent substance misuse, addictions, and the related consequences. In addition, ASTHO is identifying strategies for state and territorial health officials to address the opioid crisis across jurisdictions using a comprehensive approach, building on other initiatives and tools, such as the CDC’s prescribing guidelines, the Surgeon General’s report on addiction, and National Governors Association’s Road Map for States.


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in state-based public health practice.