President Donald Trump said Thursday that it may take many years and possibly decades to solve the opioid crisis in the U.S., but declared that it is time for the government to address this problem “head on.”
Drug overdoses led to 64,070 deaths in 2016, which is more than the amount of American lives lost in the entire Vietnam War.
“Beyond the shocking death toll, the terrible measure of the opioid crisis includes the families ripped apart, and for many communities a generation of lost potential and opportunity,” Trump said at a White House event where he declared the epidemic a nationwide public health emergency.
The White House said that this action will allow the Department of Health and Human Services to more quickly hire specialists and the Department of Labor to issue grants to help workers who have suffered due to the opioid crisis.
Trump pointed in his speech to the significant pain pill usage in America and the federal government will join many states in suing prescription drug manufacturers.
“We will be bringing some major lawsuits against people and companies that are hurting our people,” the president said. He also spoke about a program similar to Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” initiative.
Trump’s older brother Fred died after a long-time battle with alcoholism, and the president said at the White House that he has never had alcohol due to his brother urging him not to drink.
“Really tough, really big..advertising,” Trump said the government will launch in order to teach people, especially children, not to begin using drugs.
“We have fought and won many battles and wars before and we will again.”