Trump Supporters Disappointed In Lack Of Solutions To End Opioid Crisis

By Britni de la Cretaz 06/05/17

Families affected by the opioid crisis are upset that Trump has yet to fulfill his campaign promise to resolve the issue.

Donald Trump in October 2016

Donald Trump ran on a platform that promised solutions to the nation’s opioid crisis. Many families, reeling from the loss of children, or the fear of losing a child, supported his campaign in the hopes that new president would invest in treatment and find answers to the problem that was killing more and more people each year.

But with the release of Trump’s proposed budget on May 23rd, along with the American Health Care Act (AHCA), many of those families are feeling betrayed.

“He got me hook, line and sinker,” Kraig Moss told the Associated Press. “I had everything riding on the fact that he was going to make things better. He lied to me.”

Moss, a musician from Owego, New York, drove to over 40 Trump rallies to sing pro-Trump songs, carrying the ashes of his son, Rob, with him. Rob Moss died from a heroin overdose. Paul Kusiak of Beverly, Massachusetts, whose two sons have struggled with opioid addiction, said, “I didn’t see this coming,” and Pam Garozzo of Morrisville, Pennsylvania, whose son died of an overdose last year, said Trump’s budget requests run “counter to what we thought he was going to do.”

Trump’s proposed 2018 budget not only does little to nothing about the opioid epidemic killing tens of thousands of people per year, it could actually make the problem worse, Vox reports.

The budget slashes funds for the offices in charge of coordinating drug policy, Medicaid, public health programs, and more. Despite proposing about a 2% increase in drug treatment spending, the catches included in the budget would actually result in cuts to drug treatment spending.

As Vox outlines, the budget proposal cuts drug prevention programs across federal agencies from about $1.5 billion to $1.3 billion—for total cuts of about 11%. Other proposed cuts include a 47% cut to Medicaid over the next 10 years, and massive cuts to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

And while Trump had big campaign promises to end the opioid epidemic, when examined closely, our current situation could have been predicted. He campaigned on a commitment to repeal the Affordable Care Act, with no real plan for how he would replace the necessary coverage for addiction treatment.

While Trump promised to expand access to naloxone and claimed to support Obama’s Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), he never offered a plan for how the legislation—which always struggled to gain funding, thanks to Republicans in Congress—would be funded. He has also supported “tough on drug crime” policies that have historically proven ineffective and disastrous for the most marginalized communities—and his budget proposal is in line with that, increasing spending on law enforcement.

"We've got to invest in our people, and that means you've got to invest in treatment and helping people overcome that demon," Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison told Rolling Stone. "Basically what he's saying [is], 'I've got a choice to make between my friend's tax cut and your health. I want my friends to have the money and not you.'"

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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.