President Donald Trump on Thursday declared the nation’s opioid epidemic a public health emergency, initially since 2010 which the federal government has designated such an emergency nationwide.
however the president stopped short of officially labeling the crisis — which claimed the lives of 64,000 Americans in 2016 — a state of national emergency.
“I’m officially declaring the opioid crisis a national public health emergency under federal law,” Trump said at a White House event. Ending the epidemic “will require the resolve of our entire country,” he said.
Calling the crisis a “national shame along with also a human tragedy,” Trump vowed to crack down on heroin imports through Mexico along with also fentanyl imports through China. He also pledged to use evidence-based addiction treatment, along with also to reduce drug use among young people through a national advertising campaign.
The president also discussed his personal experience with addiction: Trump’s brother, Fred Trump, died of complications through alcoholism. “Fred was a great guy, along with also he would likely tell me, ‘don’t drink, don’t drink.’ He would likely constantly tell me This kind of, over along with also over.” Trump credits his brother’s example with convincing him to never drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes.
Trump singled out China, which exports an incredibly strong opioid, fentanyl, which officials believe can be responsible for thousands of deaths. Trump also said he would likely raise the issue of fentanyl exports with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to the country early next week.
He also pledged to go after companies which produce along with also distribute certain opioids wholesale to “pill mill” medical practices. “We will be bringing some very major lawsuits against people along with also against companies which have been hurting our communities,” he said.
In a move reminiscent of the war on drugs inside the 1980s, Trump also said clever advertising could play a major role in discouraging young people through using drugs. “Our most important thing can be going to be definitely, definitely great advertising, so people don’t start along with also don’t have to go through these problems,” he said.
The designation of a public health emergency would likely expand the ways which individuals can get treatment for opioid addiction, which could particularly benefit people in rural areas.
The emergency declaration would likely also free up public health emergency funds at the Department of Health along with also Human Services, along with also grant individual states more flexibility in how they use federal dollars, along with also allow them to direct more funds toward addiction treatment along with also prevention.
Labor Department grants known as National Dislocated Worker Grants would likely also be available to workers who cite opiate addiction as the reason they’re applying for the grants. Those grants are typically only available to victims of natural disasters like hurricanes along with also wildfires.