Recovery Advocate Ryan Hampton To White House: Do More To Address Addiction

By Britni de la Cretaz 09/06/17

A tweet from Melania Trump led the recovery advocate to write a pointed op-ed about the White House's lack of action to address addiction.

Ryan Hampton
Ryan Hampton Photo via Facebook

The White House has declared September National Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery Month—but a leading recovery advocate says the Trump administration has offered little more than empty gestures when it comes to responding to the American opioid epidemic. 

In a tweet on September 1st, First Lady Melania Trump wrote, “Together we can strengthen families & communities & beat addiction,” adding the phone number for the National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Hotline. It was a half-hearted acknowledgment from the Trump administration, especially in the face of a national opioid crisis, which the president’s own advisers equated to a national state of emergency.

Sept. is Nat'l Alcohol&Drug Addiction Recovery Month. Together we can strengthen families&communities & beat addiction. Call: 800-662-HELP

— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) September 1, 2017

Now, prominent recovery advocate Ryan Hampton has penned an op-ed for the Huffington Post imploring the White House to do more when it comes to addiction in the United States.

Hampton argues that grassroots recovery movements and advocates have been working for decades to de-stigmatize addiction, to humanize the cause, and to encourage the people in power to recognize it as a public health issue. He acknowledges that advocates are not powerless and that they can do something to fight for the cause—but, he writes, “We can’t work against institutional apathy. If people don’t listen―if they look the other way―there’s nothing we can do to make them care about the hundreds of Americans who die everyday due to drug related causes.”

Hampton says the public needs more than just an acknowledgment of the issue for solutions to be implemented—Americans need comprehensive policy, funding, and commitment to the addiction issue. “This issue deserves more than a single tweet,” writes Hampton. “We need action if we’re going to save lives… We deserve real change.”

So far, the White House has been mum on whether there’s a plan to follow the acknowledgment from FLOTUS. A look at the official Recovery Month Twitter account, run by SAMHSA, provides links to local services. On Tuesday, the account linked to a webpage laying out the ways they are working to combat prescription medication misuse.

Rx substance misuse is one of the biggest illicit substance problems in the US. @samhsagov is working to address it:

— Recovery Month (@RecoveryMonth) September 5, 2017

For his part, Hampton is continuing to promote his #VoicesProject through the month of September. “It’s my hope that Mrs. Trump will follow yesterday’s tweet with a plan for ending the drug epidemic,” Hampton writes. “Facing addiction is a bipartisan issue: no matter where we stand politically, this is bigger than party membership.”

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.