To the loved ones of those devastated by opioids, President Trump’s declaration Thursday of a public health care emergency is too little, too late, says USA Today. It’s “like trying to put a Band Aid on a fatal wound,” says Charlotte Wethington of northern Kentucky, who lost her son to a heroin overdose 15 years ago. “It is absolutely ridiculous that we have not done more in the time that this epidemic — pandemic — has been going on.” Trump’s directive does not release any additional funds to deal with a drug crisis that claimed more than 59,000 lives in 2016, says the New York Times. And he made little mention of the need for the rapid and costly expansion of medical treatment that public health specialists argue is crucial to addressing the epidemic.
In an editorial, the Times said the president “demonstrated that he has not grasped what’s needed to combat the opioid problem and, more important, the ways in which his own policies impede recovery for millions of Americans.” The editorial said Trump “repeated old promises to stop drug trafficking from Mexico by building the wall.” It continued, “He announced tough-sounding but vague plans to ban one prescription opioid he did not name but called ‘evil,’ to train federally employed prescribers in safe prescribing practices and to develop nonaddictive painkillers. He said the administration would produce ‘really big, really great advertising’ aimed at young people because, ‘If we can teach young people not to take drugs, it’s really, really easy not to take them.’ This is sloganeering reminiscent of the ineffective, Reagan-era ‘Just Say No’ programs, when the ravages of drug abuse in black and Hispanic communities were treated with harsh punishment, rather than the empathy and care that is being called for today.”