As the opioid epidemic escalates, the Trump administration has sent mixed messages and delivered few results in its handling of the epidemic so far, lawmakers and advocates tell USA Today. “There’s some positive signs in terms of all the talk, but we haven’t really seen any action,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, an addiction physician and co-director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University. As a candidate, Trump vowed to “dramatically expand access to treatment” and reduce the availability of heroin, oxycodone, and other opioids. Yet the White House and top Trump advisers have taken other steps that some fear could undermine efforts to combat addiction.
Trump’s budget office is considering a proposal to eliminate funding for two major anti-drug programs, raising alarm bells in Congress about the president’s commitment to put money behind the rhetoric. The White House has yet to fill its “drug czar” position, after floating a controversial candidate for that post who has since withdrawn; and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has endorsed hardline enforcement and interdiction policies that some advocates say will undermine efforts to treat addiction as public health issue. “At the very moment we’ve reached a broad, bipartisan consensus and begun to reform our overly punitive policies at the state and federal level, President Trump is poised to turn back the clock,” says Grant Smith of the Drug Policy Alliance.