Opioid Epidemic Worsens, Trump Vows More Prevention and Drug Enforcement

Saul Bowman
August 12, 2017

Trump has made it clear over the first six months of his presidency that the victims of this epidemic aren't almost as important to him as fighting the bad hombres he says are bringing drugs to the U.S. And less than two weeks into his presidency, Trump told Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull that New Hampshire was a "drug-infested den". In 1999, 19,128 people died drug-related deaths, but in 2015, that number climbed to 55,403.

"I think he should declare a national emergency, not just because that would be a symbolic gesture, but it would actually be very helpful depending on how he utilized that authority", said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University.

Most recently, at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio, in July, Trump raised the issue again when he assured rally-goers that he has already started making progress on the wall. The commission released an interim report detailing measures the administration could take to deal with the crisis.

A commission created by Trump to study opioid abuse urged him last week to declare a national emergency to address what it called an opioids crisis, framing its death toll in the context of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

“If they dont start, they wont have a problem.

After a campaign full of promises to solve the opioid crisis, denying his own commission's top suggestion is Trump's most obvious middle finger to those who believed he would attack the problem. "In addition, programs that work take into account the importance of behavioral norms: they emphasize to students that substance use is not especially common and thereby attempt to counteract the misconception that abstaining from drugs makes a person an oddball".

While large amounts of heroin have been brought from Mexico in the past decade, and New Hampshire has been hard-hit by the opioid epidemic, on Monday it became the latest state to sue the makers of OxyContin for fueling the crisis with its marketing tactics in the 1990s. To put the funds size in perspective, Congress provided a total of $1 billion over two years in its 2016 21st Century Cure Act to fight opioid abuse.

The comment was immediately slammed by Republicans and Democrats alike, including by the Republican governor of New Hampshire who endorsed Trump for president.

"We believe that, at this point, the resources that we need for the focus that we need to bring to bear to the opioid crisis, at this point can be addressed without the declaration of an emergency", Trump said.

Both Price and Conway spoke to the seriousness of the opioid crisis.

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Jay Butler told me its hard to say exactly how such a declaration could help his state without specifics from Trump, but predicted it would “open the possibly for a faster stream of resources” from the federal government to the state.

The group also asked Trump to "rapidly increase treatment capacity" for Americans addicted to opioids by granting waivers to all 50 states, allowing them to cover mental health treatment under Medicaid.

"The President is wrong", Gov. Chris Sununu said.

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