In his first State of the Union address, the president tied the nation’s opioid epidemic to alleged criminals pouring over the border. Trump pivoted to the crisis right after listing “four pillars” of an agenda designed to severely restrict immigration:
Most importantly, these four pillars will produce legislation that fulfills my ironclad pledge to only sign a bill that puts America first. So let us come together, set politics aside, and finally get the job done.
These reforms will also support our response to the terrible crisis of opioid and drug addiction.
In 2016, we lost 64,000 Americans to drug overdoses: 174 deaths per day. Seven per hour. We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge.
My administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need. The struggle will be long and difficult—but, as Americans always do, we will prevail.
Trump provided no further specifics about his plan to fight opioid addiction, which has been abetted by American pharmaceutical companies flooding the market with pills. His only movement on the issue so far has been to issue an “emergency declaration” last December that provided no federal funds to tackle the crisis. For Trump, it is easier to rail about MS-13 gangs than it is to provide health care to addicts and crack down on the pharmaceutical industry.