This is great news for the country. But it also helps President Trump’s reelection prospects, given that the opioid crisis affects areas of his base. He can now add this during his rallies to his list of accomplishments.
Of course, more people are smoking pot, but that is mostly survivable, at least in the short term.
Heroin and prescription drug abuse declined last year, according to a new government report, a bright signal of hope in the battle against one of the most devastating and politically explosive problems facing the nation.
Nevertheless, illicit use of certain other drugs rose, and drug use across all age groups increased between in 2018.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported Tuesday that drug use and abuse increased from 19% to 19.4% across all age groups starting at 12 years old in 2018. Marijuana is still the most popular drug, and its use increased. The drop in heroin use was marginal, and there was a small decrease in the use of cocaine as well.
The Trump administration is finalizing a long-awaited plan that it says will solve the opioid crisis, but it also calls for law enforcement measures — like the death penalty for some drug dealers — that public health advocates and congressional Republicans warn will detract from efforts to reverse the epidemic.
The ambitious plan, which the White House has quietly been circulating among political appointees this month, could be announced as soon as Monday when President Donald Trump visits New Hampshire, a state hard hit by the epidemic. It includes a mix of prevention and treatment measures that advocates have long endorsed, as well as beefed-up enforcement in line with the president’s frequent calls for a harsh crackdown on drug traffickers and dealers . . .
Under the most recent version of the plan, which has gone through several revisions, the Trump administration proposes to change how the government pays for opioid prescriptions to limit access to powerful painkillers. It also calls on Congress to change how Medicaid pays for treatment, seeking to make it easier for patients with addictions to get inpatient care. It would also create a new Justice Department task force that more aggressively monitors internet sales.
The administration claims its plan will reduce opioid prescriptions by one-third within three years and that the initiative will fulfill Trump’s campaign promise to “stop opioid abuse.”
However, that will be a tall order. There were more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016, mostly involving opioids, according to the most recent federal mortality data. The CDC last week reported that emergency rooms recorded a 30 percent spike in opioid overdoses last summer, indicating that the devastating crisis is worsening.