Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Trump Calls Opioids ‘No Good,’ Urges People Not to Abuse Them

  • President suggests stricter law enforcement, border controls
  • Opioids responsible for more than 33,000 U.S. deaths in 2015

President Donald Trump on Tuesday called highly addictive opioids “really bad for you in every way” and suggested telling people not to use the drugs and cutting off illegal supplies as solutions to the U.S. drug epidemic.

Overdoses from prescription pain pills and illegal heroin have killed tens of thousands of Americans annually in recent years. Many people start on pills prescribed by a doctor following an injury or surgery. Others use the the drugs recreationally, then begin taking larger doses or switch to heroin.

Trump on Tuesday commented on the epidemic from Bedminster, New Jersey, in what he billed earlier in the day as a “major briefing” on the issue.

“The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place,” Trump said. “If they don’t start, they won’t have a problem. If they do start, it’s awfully tough to get off. So if we can keep them from going on and maybe by talking to youth and telling them: ‘No good, really bad for you in every way.’ But if they don’t start, it will never be a problem.”

He called for tougher law enforcement, including locking up more drug dealers after what he said was a decline in drug-related prosecutions since 2011.

“They looked at this surge and they let it go by,” Trump said of the opioid epidemic. “We’re not letting it go by.”

Tightening Borders

He also called for more aggressively policing U.S. borders to stop the import of heroin and synthetic opioids from abroad.

“We’re also very, very tough on the southern border where much of this comes in, and we’re talking to China, where certain forms of man-made drug comes in and it is bad,” Trump said. “We have to win for a lot of other people, not necessarily young, that are totally addicted and have serious, serious problems.”

A White House commission appointed by Trump has called for declaring opioid addiction a national emergency. So far, Trump has not done so.

“The administration is still completing the review process of the recently submitted interim report, and we will let you know when we have additional updates,” Lindsay Walters, a White House spokeswoman, said Tuesday. The Food and Drug Administration has announced steps to try and limit misuse of the drugs.

At a press briefing following the president’s remarks, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said the administration was coming up with a comprehensive strategy that would be presented to Trump in the future.

33,000 Dead a Year

“It is an emergency,” Price said of the epidemic.

Price later said that “the focus we need to bring to bear for the opioid crisis at this point can be done without the declaration of a national emergency,” though that everything is on the table.

Declaring an emergency would give the administration additional funding and powers, such as negotiating lower prices for overdose reversal drugs, according to the draft report.

More than 33,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2015, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA. More than 8,500 of those who died were 25 to 34 years old, the group with the most overdose deaths, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Most opioid overdose deaths are linked to prescription pain pills, though use of heroin is growing rapidly, accounting for almost 13,000 deaths in 2015, according to NIDA. As many as 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them, and about 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription painkillers, according to NIDA.

Several states have sued drugmakers that manufacture opioids, blaming them for the rise in addiction and seeking to recover damages. On Thursday, New Hampshire became the fifth state to do

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