Trump’s ‘Just Say No’ Strategy On Drugs Proves He Has No Idea How To Solve The Opioid Epidemic

Hoping to change the subject after what was arguably the worst two weeks of his presidency, Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency on Thursday, calling it the “worst drug crisis in American history.”

“Addressing it will require all of our effort, and it will require us to confront the crisis in all of its very real complexity,” Trump said today.

Not only did Trump fail to commit new funding toward combatting this crisis, but the plans he did put forward lacked any complexity at all. Instead, the core of his proposal is a recycled version of the failed “just say no” strategy of the past.

Like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said Thursday in a tweet, Trump’s announcement today was “nothing more than an empty promise.”

As Slate noted in a report published a short time ago, “The most specific his speech got was when he advocated for spending more money on educating youth to flat-out refuse drugs—an approach that’s been shown to be ineffective.”

According to the report, similar drug-abstinence programs used to combat drug use have been “ineffective and sometimes counterproductive (studies published in 2002 and 2009 found that teens who participated in DARE or similar programs actually had a higher likelihood of drinking or smoking than students who hadn’t undergone the educational initiative).”

Instead of being the generation that finally brings this epidemic to an end, Trump’s plans are likely to “put another generation through an ineffective marketing campaign,” the Slate report continued.

Meanwhile, this is a crisis that takes the lives of tens of thousands of Americans each year. In 2015 alone,  more than 33,000 people died in opioid-related drug overdoses.

This serious problem demands fresh, substantive solutions – not a rehash of policies that have failed in the past. It’s going to take the leadership of a president who cares more about solving complex problems than getting a good headline.

After ten months in the White House, it’s very clear that Donald Trump is not that president.

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