United States’ President Donald Trump recently announced a new plan to fight opioid abuse and addiction in this country. As nearly everyone knows, there is a major opioid epidemic in the United States today, and something needs to be done to stop it – and fast. According to current statistics, 115 people die from opioid abuse and addiction every day in the United States, and that number is continuously growing. In New Hampshire, where President Trump traveled to give his address on “Opioids: The Crisis Next Door,” the number of opioid related deaths is double that of the national average, and shows no signs of slowing down, let alone stopping.
This press conference was President Trump’s first visit to New Hampshire since campaigning there in 2016. Last year, the president called the Granite State a “drug infested den,” and despite the continuing crisis there, during his opening remarks, he commended the state’s governor on taking steps to slow the tragedy. In general, the president seemed to realize the scale of this epidemic, and the need to move forward with a strong plan quickly if we have any hopes of defeating it or even decreasing it. “We are pouring a lot of money and a lot of talent into this horrible problem,” he said, “and we pledge to honor the memory of those you have lost with action, determination and resolve… We will not rest until the end and I will tell you this scourge of drug addiction in America will stop.”
President Trump also stated “defeat will require the dedication of every local, state, and federal agency” working together, and he reassured attendees and listeners that “addiction is not our future.” He also reminded those in attendance and listening at home that in October he declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, and stated that our government would be spending six billion dollars of new funding in 2018 and 2019 to help solve the issue. This is, by far, the most money our country has ever spent to combat the opioid epidemic, but where this money to fight it will come from was left unsaid and unclear.
Trump’s Three Part Plan
In order to achieve his goals of halting the opioid epidemic, President Trump introduced a three part plan that included actions for prevention, for reducing access, and for providing treatment for affected individuals. Since the announcement that opioid abuse is an official public health crisis, his Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, led by former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, recommended fifty-six actions to fight the epidemic, all of which were approved. Now, this new, multi-faceted plan is the government’s next steps to continue the battle.
The first branch of the plan is focused on prevention. President Trump noted that the best way to keep people from becoming addicted to opioids, and from dying from that addiction, is to keep them from starting to use them in the first place. He cited the success of past advertising campaigns against drug use, cigarette smoking, and driving while intoxicated, and suggested that intensive scare tactics in commercials on television and in advertisements online may be effective to this end as well. Further, allowing people affected by opioid addiction – either themselves or people who have lost friends and family members the drug – to share their stories through a new website, crisisnextdoor.gov, can help show people how bad and widespread opioid abuse and addiction really is and can be. He wants children and teens to “want to have nothing to do with it,” and feels this would be one of the cheapest, easiest ways to effectively slow down the number of people that begin using.
Additionally, the president said that he hopes to cut opioid prescriptions in this country by one-third over the next three years, and briefly acknowledged the fact that opioids are often too quickly prescribed, and are over-prescribed as well. He plans to increase federal funding for more non-addictive painkillers so patients have alternative options, and further stated that all prescriptions funded or partially funded by the federal government will have to follow best practices in order to receive that funding.
The second part of President Trump’s plan to stop opioid abuse in the United States is to reduce the amount of opioids available to the American people. Unfortunately, the president’s vision for this portion of the plan was somewhat limited as it was focused mostly on drug trafficking and said little about the large number of American citizens receiving their opioids legally or illegally from doctors. Instead, President Trump used this portion of his remarks to yet again rally for the building of a wall on the Mexico/USA border, and supported this idea by stating that 90% of the heroin coming into our country comes through the southern border. More than once he called for the end to sanctuary cities and expressed the importance of ending illegal immigration swiftly and effectively.
The most shocking and headline-worthy portion of the entire plan and press conference was President Trump’s suggestion and recommendation that large scale, convicted traffickers possibly be sentenced to the death penalty. He admitted “maybe our country is not ready for that,” but said that he got the idea from other countries who have similarly harsh “zero tolerance” penalties that seem to be effective. Surely, this sort of penalty would have to be approved by the Supreme Court of the United States, and it’s rather unlikely that that would happen, as the federal death penalty is so rarely used. Since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988, only seventy-six defendants have been sentenced to death, and of those, only twelve have been removed from death row, and only three have actually been executed.
Although President Trump’s main focus for this portion of the plan is to stop trafficking of opioids from other countries, he did briefly acknowledge medical professionals who have been over-prescribing opioids for the past decade or longer. He said that drug companies must be held accountable, and commended Attorney General Jeff Sessions for leading the Department of Justice in the formation of a task force to investigate drug companies and manufacturers and to initiate lawsuits against them for recklessness when necessary.
Providing life saving help for people who are suffering and compassionate treatment for those who need it is the third part of President Trump’s plan. The president made it very clear that he was very impressed with life saving opioid reversal drugs, Narcan in particular. The plan calls for all first responders to be supplied with these drugs to save people from overdose, and Adapt Pharma, producer of Narcan, pledged to supply all high schools, colleges, and universities with their product at no cost. Kaleo Pharma, which produces a similar product called EVZIO, has donated 300,000 doses to first responders as a starting point.
President Trump further expressed a desire to make treatment more affordable and accessible to people from all backgrounds and economic levels including inmates leaving prison. He also proposed that the family members of victims of overdose be informed about their loved one’s medical emergency to help him or her get into treatment afterwards. However, this would likely be difficult to approve due to HIPPA regulations. In general, Trump recognized the importance of quality, affordable treatment, and made a promise to expand the reach of treatment across the country to all who need it.
President Trump’s plan to fight back against the opioid epidemic certainly sounds promising. Clearly, action must be taken and on numerous fronts. In his press conference about this plan, it seems that the president is taking the situation very seriously and he expressed many good ideas. Hopefully, these ideas will be pursued and implemented and rapid and comprehensive progress will be made. One thing the president did not speak on, however, is the source of funding for all of these ideas and programs. Although President Trump promised that our government will spend six billion dollars to combat the issue over the next two years, many people affected by the opioid epidemic, either personally or through a loved one’s addiction, will be waiting with baited breath to see what happens next.
It’s imperative that you or your loved one gets clean and sober immediately, and we are here to help. At Clear Sky Recovery, we offer ibogaine detox treatment at our facility in Cancun, Mexico. Ibogaine detox has been called a form of “addiction interruption,” and can be extremely helpful to anyone wanting to start moving on a clean and healthy, drug free path. Our intake specialists are standing by to answer your questions. Please call us today.
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.