Today marks the day that President of the United States Donald Trump finally declares opioid epidemic a public health emergency. And then did absolutely nothing more about it. Meanwhile, his right-hand man, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, used the declaration to bolster his own anti-cannabis agenda.
The Donald’s Daring Declaration
After months of urging and prodding, Trump finally delivered. Well, kind of. He almost did. Trump declares opioid epidemic a public health emergency. It’s not exactly what drug addiction and public health experts have been asking for though. They have been vying for a declaration of a national emergency. That kind of declaration would have prompted more funds to be allocated to the cause to better find opioid addition, which has increased at alarming levels throughout the nation.
Instead, Trump has declared the opioid epidemic a “public health emergency.” While the two sound similar, they are actually quite different. The main difference between the two is that a national emergency requires immediate funding to combat the emergency. Not to worry, though, because The Donald has a plan to fight opioid addiction. It starts with the youth of the nation.
Just Say No
Part of President Trumps grand plans to combat the “public health emergency” is “really tough, really big, really great advertising” targeted toward children, teens and young adults.
“This was an idea that I had, where if we can teach young people not to take drugs, it’s really, really easy not to take them,” he said.
Really? That’s part of the plan to combat the opioid epidemic in the United States? Advertising? While education is important and can’t be underestimated in terms of health issues, it doesn’t seem like comprehensive drug education is what Trump is proposing here. It sounds like he is rehashing and rebranding the “Just Say No” campaign of the 1980s. You know, the one popularized by Nancy Reagan.
In case you weren’t around in the ’80s, the “Just Say No” campaign didn’t have any significant effect on drug use. Neither did the comparable Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program decades later.
Never one to squander an opportunity to push an agenda, Attorney General Jeff Sessions put in his two cents at a Heritage Foundation forum. Predictably, he blamed the opioid epidemic on cannabis. Despite the myriad scientific evidence and data that refutes this idea. While Trump finally declares opioid epidemic a public health emergency, Sessions had this to say:
“I do think this whole country needs to not be so lackadaisical about drugs. When you talk to police chiefs, consistently they say much of the addiction starts with marijuana. It’s not a harmless drug.”
Final Hit: Trump Finally Declares Opioid Epidemic A Public Health Emergency
During his speech, amid his usual bounty of meaningless platitudes, Trump shared that his older brother died of alcoholism. While we can all sympathize with losing a loved one to addiction, Trump’s declaration of public health emergency rather than a national emergency isn’t helping anyone. Neither will a reboot of “Just Say No.”
“There is nothing desirable about drugs,” he concluded. “They’re bad.”
Opioid abuse is a serious problem. So let’s make some actual progress.