Experts To Trump: We Need Recovery Services, Not Lip Service

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Experts To Trump: We Need Recovery Services, Not Lip Service

By Victoria Kim 04/19/17

Critics of Trump's response to the opioid epidemic are calling for addiction treatment funding instead of platitudes.

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Donald Trump

While on the campaign trail last year, President Trump promised his supporters, on multiple occasions, to do something about the country's opioid problem.

When he wasn’t selling his plan to build a massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which he said would help “stop the drugs from pouring into our country”—Trump advocated for expanding treatment for individuals struggling with substance use disorder. 

“We will help all of those people so seriously addicted get the assistance they need to unchain themselves,” Trump said in Portsmouth, New Hampshire last October.

In Manchester, he said, “We’re going to set up programs … We’re going to try everything we can to get them unaddicted.”

“Our terrible drug epidemic will slow down and ultimately stop,” he said in a joint address to Congress in February. “We will expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted.”

But critics say Trump isn’t getting serious enough about the issue of growing opioid use and fatal overdose across the country. 

“We don’t need lip service, we need recovery services,” said Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, according to the Boston Globe. “This is an emergency. It’s a crisis. It’s the worst epidemic to hit the state in generations, and the whole country is going to have this problem in depth unless we provide the funding.”

According to Astead W. Herndon’s critique of Trump’s lack of action thus far in the Boston Globe, Trump’s proposed 2018 budget does not dedicate more funding to the treatment programs he mentioned on the campaign trail.

Trump has, however, set up a commission to study and give recommendations on how to address the opioid epidemic, headed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The commission will produce two reports by this fall, Herndon notes, at which point the group will be dissolved after 30 days with no concrete plans on how to proceed from there.

“While the establishment of a commission is a good first step, we need urgent action because people are dying,” said Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Out of 52,404 fatal drug overdoses in 2015—20,101 of them involved prescription painkillers, while 12,990 of them involved heroin, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

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