The opioid epidemic has been a problem since the Nixon years. President Trump has made many efforts to change policies of sentencing for addicts. Addiction is considered a disease by the President, but there are many people who disagree. He even declared it a national health crisis because people die from overdosing on opiates every day in America. The Trump administration has done more to fight this crisis than Nixon did. President Trump has spent billions on setting up treatment for addicts that have been convicted. The Opioid Crisis is an epidemic because the government treated the situation like an annoyance until President Trump and Congress started collaborating.
Opioid addiction has been an epidemic for a long time. The Trump Administration has tried to combat this problem in different ways. They have stepped up border patrol at the Mexican border to keep these drugs from crossing the United States.
Opioids are defined as a family of drugs with characteristics like those of opium (Goldberg & Mitchell, 2019). The FBI has incorporated more undercover investigations to help catch drug dealers that are selling opiates. There is a high arrest rate for possession of opiates in the United States. The ancient civilizations used it for medicinal qualities. Fentanyl is an opiate that kills millions of people every day. This is a synthetic drug that is more potent than heroin. These drugs have mental and physical side effects. These effects can make a person’s ability to make logical choices. More than 30,000 people die from overdose every year on opioids. There are loopholes that make shipping Fentanyl from China to the United States legal. Fentanyl is an opioid medication generally prescribed to cancer patients who are in severe pain (Battiloro, 2019). The major attraction of this drug is because the intensive high that is experienced from taking a small amount. This opiate is so deadly it can kill in very trace amounts. There are drugs being sold on the street everyday that are laced with Fentanyl. There are young people dying every day that are first time users because of this drug’s potency. Opiates are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Opiates are brought into America by boats, planes, and motor vehicles.
In late March, Trump unveiled a new Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. He tapped New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to head the group. “We want to help those who have become so badly addicted”, Trump said during a listening session on opioid addiction (Gozner, 2017). “The president and I both agree that addiction is a disease, and it's a disease that can be treated” (Gozner, 2017). This was Donald Trump’s first step in starting the fight against this epidemic. Some people think that drug use is a choice and Trump disagrees with this opinion. The Kennedy’s had a family member who had an addiction to opiates. HHS secretary Dr. Tom Price was biased against medical treatment for addiction. Many officials believe that the solution is stricter sentencing for drug related charges. I agree with Donald Trump’s approach to treating addiction. Addicts who only receive jail time without treatment are likely to relapse.
President Trump declared opioid abuse a public health emergency. I remember seeing posts about this on Facebook and the news. DOJ devoted its United States Attorneys’ Bulletin to Addressing the Heroin and Opioid Crisis, in 2016 (Rothberg & Smith, 2018). The Trump administration reconceptualized drug sentencing and made treatment a requirement. The First Step Act was signed by Congress in 2018 (Exum, 2019). This mandated prisons to implement recidivism programs for drug offenders. The Trump administration had secured 6 billion dollars to fight opioid abuse. Medicaid expansion is now required to cover mental and physical treatment for drug addiction for senior citizens through the First Step Act. The unfortunate fact is that not all states participate in Medicaid expansion. Mississippi is one of the states that opted out of Medicaid expansion.
In 2018 Congress put together an initiative to help in the opioid crisis (U.S. Government Publishing Office, 2019). This policy had to be approved by President Trump. This was laid out in a very detailed plan in 2017 before it was passed. According to U.S. Government Publishing Office, 2019:
- Improve access to prevention, treatment, and recovery support services to prevent the health, social, and economic consequences associated with opioid addiction and to enable individuals to achieve long-term recovery.
- Target the availability and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs to ensure the broad provision of these drugs to people likely to experience or respond to an overdose, with a focus on targeting high-risk populations.
- Strengthen public health data reporting and collection to improve the timeliness and specificity of data and to inform a real-time public health response as the epidemic evolves.
- Support cutting-edge research that advances our understanding of pain and addiction, leads to the development of new treatments, and identifies effective public health interventions to reduce opioid-related health harms.
- Advance the practice of pain management to enable access to high-quality, evidence-based pain care that reduces the burden of pain for individuals, families, and society while also reducing the inappropriate use of opioids and opioid-related harms.
President Trump worked on this initiative with Congress for a long time. This plan clearly shows that Trump believes in fighting addiction through medical and mental treatment. The President treats addiction like the disease that it is. There are still many who disagree, but the Trump administration is doing a great job at proving them wrong.
- Battiloro, C. (2019). Fentanyl: How China’s Pharmaceutical Loopholes Are Fueling the United States’ Opioid Crisis. Syracuse Journal of International Law & Commerce, 46(2), 343–378.
- Exum, J. J. (2019). From Warfare to Welfare: Reconceptualizing Drug Sentencing During the Opioid Crisis. Kansas Law Review, 67(5), 941–959.
- Goldberg, R., & Mitchell, P. (2019). Drugs across the spectrum. Australia: Cengage.
- Goozner, M. (2017). A false start in the fight against opioid addiction. Modern Healthcare, 47(21), 24.
- Rothberg, R. L., & Stith, K. (2018). The Opioid Crisis and Federal Criminal Prosecution. The Journal Of Law, Medicine & Ethics: A Journal Of The American Society Of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 46(2), 292–313.
- U.S. Government Publishing Office. (2019). The federal response to the opioid crisis: hearing of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, United States Senate, One Hundred Fifteenth Congress, first session, on examining the federal response to the opioid crisis, October 5, 2017. Washington.