Trump discussed the opioid epidemic and addiction treatment funding during the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit.
This week, the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit convened in Atlanta, Georgia. The annual summit (April 22-25) is attended by everyone who has a stake in the national drug crisis—people from the mental health field, law enforcement, health care, government, research and people in recovery.
Among this year’s speakers are James Carroll, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. President Barack Obama and Patrick Kennedy have also attended the conference in years past.
On the third day of the summit (April 24), Donald Trump and First Lady Melania came to address the summit.
“Everyone here today is united by the same vital goal—to liberate our fellow Americans from the grip of drug addiction and to end the opioid crisis once and for all. It’s happening. It’s happening,” said Trump.
The president outlined his administration’s efforts to mitigate the crisis thus far.
“My administration is deploying every resource at our disposal to empower you, to support you and fight right by your side, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.
Trump cited the unprecedented amount of funding dedicated to fighting the opioid crisis under his administration—including a two-year plan to use $6 billion to fight opioid abuse—and didn’t hesitate to take credit for making “a tremendous amount of progress” in pushing back the deadly epidemic.
“We have results that are unbelievable. Numbers that I heard, two weeks ago, that I was shocked to hear. We’re making tremendous progress,” he said.
Naturally, the border wall was a highlight of Trump’s anti-drug plan. The president claimed that 90% of heroin is coming through the southern border, and said that construction is “probably ahead of schedule” on building “almost 400 miles of wall built by the end of next year.” The barrier will have a “tremendous impact on drugs coming into our country,” Trump promised. “You’re going to see some very, very big differences in the coming months.”
Another feature of his plan to mitigate the painful effects of drug abuse across the U.S. was negotiating “a very big trade deal” with China—where “almost all fentanyl” comes from, according to the president—to prevent the synthetic opioid from being shipped to the U.S.
In October 2017, Trump declared that the opioid crisis was a public health emergency.
While he has brought attention to the national opioid crisis, critics aren’t convinced that the government’s anti-drug efforts have actually made a dent.