In 2017, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. Now, he’s presented an initiative outlining how his administration plans to address it.

The Trump opioid initiative could be a significant development for the nation, which is grappling to solve an epidemic of overdoses that have become the leading cause of death in the United States. The plan is broken down in an attempt to address over-prescription, illicit drug supplies, a lack of treatment and recovery services (see and more. 

Understanding Trump’s Opioid Initiative

In a speech given in New Hampshire, Trump presented the major points of his opioid initiative. He touched on efforts to launch a nationwide education campaign, strengthen criminal enforcement and border security, and expand access to addiction treatment and other resources.  

Known as the Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse, the plan works to address the “driving forces of the opioid crisis.” Published in greater detail in a White House Briefing, the Trump administration also proposes to change how the government pays for opioid prescriptions to limit access to painkillers.

Nationwide Educational Campaign

Reducing Demand through Public Knowledge

The opioid initiative plans to launch a national awareness and prevention campaign to better inform the public. The intention is to reduce demand and improper prescribing through education about the dangers of using opioids.

The administration has also launched a public campaign, Crisis Next Door. The site encourages people who have suffered because opioid abuse to share their stories, whether they had a personal struggle with addiction or helped to support a friend or family member.

The education campaign intends to reduce the over-prescription of opioids, which according to the briefing, has the potential to “lead Americans down a path to addiction.”

Criminal Enforcement & Stricter Border Security

Reducing the Supply

A main point of the plan is law enforcement and interdiction, signaling a crackdown on the dealers and suppliers. It involves using tougher capital punishment for drug traffickers and calling for a lesser amount of drugs needed to invoke mandatory minimum sentences, specifically for those who “distribute certain illicit opioids that are lethal in trace amounts.” One of the most controversial part of the plan involves an approval of  the death penalty for certain offenders.

The plan proposes stricter border security to keep opioids from entering the country, with the following provisions:

Additionally, the plan would allow for the creation of a new task force within the Justice Department, known as the Prescription Interdiction and Litigation (PIL) Task Force.  A major aim of the task force would be to monitor and police digital sales of opioids using the following allowances:

Expanded Addiction Treatment

Providing and Developing Recovery Services 

The Trump opioid initiative has outlined a number of plans to help people struggling with addiction. It works to expand rehabilitation and other treatment options in a variety of ways, including supplying the powerful overdose reversal agent, naloxone, to first responders and providing funding for opioid tracking to identify hardest hit areas. Another service will be testing people who enter into the criminal justice system and then issuing mandatory treatment, a method likely to be considered to be a compulsory power breach.  

It hopes to decrease the number of opioid prescriptions by educating physicians on prescribing info and developing non-addictive options to manage pain, in addition to changing the way Medicaid reimburses residential care facilities. It provides specific support for veterans and their families through the Departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs.  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

According to the briefing, the  Implement a Safer Prescribing Plan intends to achieve the following objectives:

The administration plans to fund research and development for creative therapies based on technological advancement, with one proposed idea to develop a vaccine to prevent opioid addiction.

Though it is a controversial plan from a controversial president, the Trump opioid initiative contains clear action items and expands funding for education and treatment.

“Stigma, silence and a lack of information prevent us from confronting this crisis as we should,” President Trump said in his speech on Monday.

“Working together, we will end the stigma of addiction, defeat the opioid epidemic and overcome the crisis next door.”