Donald Trump does not appear to understand the first thing about the opioid crisis. Nearly 64,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2016. That’s more people than died during the entire Vietnam War. The man sitting in the Oval Office’s idea for solving this national epidemic was worse than former first lady Nancy Reagan’s “just say no” idea.
Two-third of the overdoses, or 42,600, were directly linked to opioids. That meant every month 3,550 adults, teenagers, and children stop breathing ever again. Every week someone planned 825 funerals, and every day 118 families grieved a loved one.
Trump tweeted patting himself on the back for his “fighting this opioid epidemic:”
‘National Prescription Drug
#TakeBackDay numbers are in! Another record broken: nearly 1 MILLION pounds of Rx pills disposed! Let’s keep fighting this opioid epidemic, America!’
That is not acceptable. As many parents who have buried their children know, it only took one wrong pill to kill their kids.
The commander-in-chief’s 2019 budget proposal would increase federal funds to fight the opioid crisis $30 billion over the next five years. It was also cut 21 percent from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) budget. Go figure that one out.
Trump’s big idea for solving something that needs ASAP attention is more punishment for drug dealers. He was talking about the low-level dealers, not the big pharma companies who lobby and donate to campaigns.
Trump’s plan only further profitted the privatized prison system. This idea rotates around regularly, and it has never worked before.
The Donald wanted the death penalty for these low-level dealers, but is that such a good idea? What would the country say to putting seventh-graders to death?
The president also wanted to cut the number of prescriptions. That is a good idea in theory, but a broad solution tends to force people in severe, legitimate chronic pain to suffer far more.
The third leg of 45’s plan was treatment. He wanted Congress to repeal its ruling that halts Medicaid money to big treatment facilities.
Only 10 percent of people in this country addicted to opioids have access to treatment, because it simply does not exist — due to cuts Trump endorsed. A mere half of those facilities even offer opioid addiction medications.
Here’s an idea. Ask the people out in the trenches, dealing with this crisis every day, what the country should do.
Featured Image via Getty images/Sean Gallup.