Even before Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States, the man was making promises to better America. Despite the controversy that surrounds his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again,” his focus on ending the opioid crisis is very positive.
The Trump administration recently published a press release stating they will continue to fight the opioid crisis. According to the document, more than 2 million Americans will be addicted to opioids in 2018. More than 63,600 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2016, and the numbers are projected to rise.
“Defeating this epidemic will require the commitment of every State, local, and Federal agency,” President Trump stated in the release. “Failure is not an option. Addiction is not our future. We will liberate our country from this crisis.”
Trump’s administration has already made impressive strides in reducing substance dependence in America, and the actions of recent months will augment that.
$4 Billion To Support War on Opioids
Although there have been conversations about supporting the war on opioids for months, the first significant action taken by the administration occurred on March 23, when President Trump signed an omnibus funding bill into law.
This bill allocated $4 billion towards funding addiction treatment and prevention centers and movements, treatment research, drug courts, law enforcement, safer prescribing initiatives, and other organizations focused on both preventing and curing addictions and preventing problems.
Efforts to Prevent Illegal Opioid Use
The funding has enabled the government to make some key moves to take opioids off the street. Here are some of the efforts they’ve initiated.
- Organization of the J-CODE Team
Following the signing of this funding bill, the Attorney General organized the Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement Team, often referred to as the J-CODE Team. They fall under the FBI umbrella, and their focus is on stopping drug trafficking over the darknet, particularly fentanyl and other severe opioids.
They performed their first operation shortly thereafter, and the Attorney General reported on the results about a week before the White House published the press release mentioned above.
“The operation, which took place from March 27 to March 30, resulted in eight arrests and the seizure of weapons, drugs, counterfeit currency, and computer equipment,” the Attorney General reported.
- Arresting of Over-Prescribing Pharmacists
Prescription drugs are a growing problem in opioid abuse. In some cases, substance abusers access opioids in a friend or family member’s medicine cabinet. In other cases, the culprit will be pharmacists or pharmacy technicians who disproportionately prescribe prescription opioids.
In response to this problem, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sanctioned a 45-day investigation of medical professionals who have potentially been over-prescribing opioid-based medications.
“The DEA surge led to 28 arrests and revoked 147 registrations of medical professionals, taking away their ability to dispense controlled substances,” the press release states.
This crack-down on over-prescribed medications will hopefully send a message to other pharmacies that there’s zero tolerance for illegally prescribing opioids.
- Fighting Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs)
Unfortunately, many of the opioid problems in the United States come from other countries. The Department of Homeland Security has begun an initiative designed to take down the TCO organizations that introduce fentanyl and other heroin substances into the United States.
“So far in 2018, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has provided training to more than 1,200 other Federal, State and local law enforcement officers on the investigation of opioid trafficking over the internet and darknet and the use of crypto-currencies by TCOs,” the release states.
- Raising Awareness of the Opioid Crisis
Funds have also been allocated to increasing awareness around the United States about the Opioid Crisis. The Surgeon General sent out an advisory on Naloxene and opioid overdose to encourage abusers to keep the drug on hand, as it can reverse the effects of opioid overdose and save lives.
President Trump also moved the Prescribed to Death memorial to President’s Park. This monument was designed by the National Safety Council. It’s a wall made of 22,000 fake pills. Each has a face carved into it to represent the tens of thousands who die from opioid overdose each year.
Controversial Methods for Stopping Opioid Trafficking
Along with investigating and preventing opioid use in the United States, President Trump has also introduced ideas for preventing its border crossing. Many of his ideas are controversial.
A primary claim during his campaign elected was that he would build a wall along the Mexican border to keep out illegal immigrants. It’s his belief that this wall will prevent smuggling of drugs into the United States.
While the wall may not be a feasible structure, the press release states there will be more advanced securities and protections at every port of entry into the United States. This might also make it more difficult for immigrants to come into the United States.
In all, these new programs are designed for the betterment of society. Not everything discussed in the administration will be set in stone, and there’s still a long process ahead for winning the war on drugs.