Jerome Adams speaks at National Black Caucus of State Legislators

Dec 1, 2017

The U.S. Surgeon General and former Indiana Health Commissioner Jerome Adams spoke in Indianapolis today. He called for racial equity in addressing the opioid epidemic. 


After dozens of elementary school - aged children sang the black national anthem, Jerome Adams spoke to an audience that included members of state legislatures across the country. He says that race and class play a role in how communities respond to the opioid epidemic.

Adams gives the example of court diversion programs that give someone the choice of jail or treatment.

The affluent and the non minorities are going to be the ones that have the best chance of being successful and the minorities and the less affluent are not.

He says too often these programs make calculations based on someone’s chance of succeeding at recovery, and favor people with family support systems and resources - like housing.

Because 267 percent increase in heroin overdoses in whites, but what we aren’t talking about is we’ve got over a 200 percent increase in overdoses in blacks… So this epidemic is really affecting everyone and the solutions have to affects everyone also.

Adams admits he’s gotten criticized for working with President Trump. He says he applauds the president for declaring the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, and pushing federal agencies to find additional funds to combat it. He asks the group - if you don’t agree with what’s going on, how are you gonna change it, if you’re not in the room?