Christie on Drug Epidemic: ‘We Have a 9/11 Scale Loss of Life Every 3 Weeks

By Melanie Arter | August 7, 2017 | 9:55 AM EDT

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (Screenshot of CNN video)

( – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who leads the president’s commission on opioid abuse, has called for the president to declare a national emergency on drug abuse, telling CNN’s “State of the Union with Jake Tapper” on Sunday that the number of Americans who die from drug overdoses is on “a 9/11 scale” every three weeks.

“According to the CDC, 142 people a day are dying in America of drug overdoses. This means, Jake, that we have a 9/11-scale loss of life every three weeks,” Christie said. “I don't -- if that's not a national health emergency, I don't know what is.

“And the fact is, we have got to stop the suffering in this country, and we need to be aggressive about it. And that's why we're talking about increased treatment, increased medication-assisted treatment, making sure that we interdict fentanyl and some of these other drugs at the border as they come in, and strengthen our ability to do that, and to work on education to try to prevent people from starting this before by educating their doctors,” he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids killed more than 33,000 in 2015 alone – more than any year on record. “Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid,” the CDC website stated. The most commonly overdosed opioids are: methadone, oxycodone or OxyContin, and hydrocodone or Vicodin.

Christie said he’s had a really good response from the White House to his interim report request that the president declare a national health emergency.

“We have gotten really good response from the White House and, quite frankly, from the public, in terms of our recommendations, and I'm confident that the president will accept the recommendations of this commission. The fact is, it is a national health emergency, Jake,” Christie said.

The New Jersey governor said in 2015, doctors wrote enough prescriptions for opioid drugs that “every adult American in this country could be medicated fully for three weeks.”

He said four out of every five new heroin addicts starts out on prescription opioid drugs.

“This is a problem that is not just starting on our street corners. Where it's really starting is in our doctor's officers and hospitals, and we urge the president to take these steps. He's taking this commission seriously, as we are, and we make some very aggressive recommendations, and I'm confident he will adopt them,” Christie said.