Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said “no one individual has done more to raise awareness of our country’s opioid crisis than President Trump.” His remarks come after the Trump Administration released a set of advertisements promoting awareness to opioid addiction among young people.
“No one individual has done more to raise awareness of our country’s opioid crisis than President Trump,” Secretary Azar said. “Raising awareness is a key piece of defeating the threat of opioid addiction, which too many Americans still do not fully understand.”
President Trump campaigned on combating the opioid crisis and, as commander-in-chief, has made the scourge of opioid abuse a central focus of his administration.
In April 2017, the Trump Administration announced it would provide grants to all 50 states to combat opioid addiction. The funding was the first of two rounds to be allocated under the 21st Century Cures Act.
In August 2017, President Trump officially declared the opioid crisis a national emergency. The Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis said that executive action would make the opioid crisis a top priority and allow the Cabinet to take “bold steps” against drug abuse.
In March 2018, the White House unveiled the Initiative to Stop Opioids Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand. The three-pronged strategy targets the factors the Commission and others identified as fueling the opioid crisis, including increased prosecution of those fueling the crisis.
The Justice Department (DOJ) recently announced on the 500th day of the Trump Administration that they have added 311 new Assistant U.S. Attorneys “to assist in priority areas” such as the opioid criss, immigration and violent crimes. It is the largest increase in AUSAs in decades.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse found nearly 80% of heroin users started with prescription opioids. From 1999 to 2016, overdose deaths as a result of heroin use increased 7x, and deaths from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl has risen by nearly 21x.
HHS and DOJ released a joint report in April 2018 showing the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Takedown event was the single largest healthcare fraud bust in history.
The (FY) 2017 Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program report shows for every dollar the federal government spent on healthcare-related fraud and abuse in the last three years, they recovered $4. In FY 2017, the Trump Administration’s efforts recovered $2.6 billion in taxpayer dollars from individuals and entities.
Along with enforcement, awareness is a major part of President Trump’s initiative, which calls on government to play a greater role in educating “Americans about the dangers of opioid and other drug use and seek to curb over-prescription.” It’s the part of the first of the three-pronged approach.
The Trump Administration launched the ads on an awareness website, Opioids, the Truth. Video advertisements detail the stories of individuals suffering from addiction, and facts surrounding the national crisis, can be found on the website.
Every day, more than 115 Americans die from opioid overdoses. That’s more than one person every 15 minutes.
“These ads are a targeted effort to promote awareness, especially among our youth, about the deadliness of opioid misuse and the risks of opioid addiction,” Secretary Azar added. “HHS is proud to support these efforts, which reflect a recommendation from the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, and to continue our department’s work to educate the public about opioid addiction.”