“Drug addiction can take your friends and family, and no state has been spared,” First Lady Melania Trump said in her introduction for her husband at a press conference Thursday, before the president declared war on the opioid crisis.
“Last year, we lost at least 64,000 Americans to drug overdoses,” President Trump announced. “That’s 175 lost lives per day, and 7 lost lives per hour,” he explained.
“Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of unintentional death in the United States. More people are dying per day than from gun homicides and motor vehicle crashes combined,” Trump said.
Last year, almost 1 million Americans used heroin, and more than 11 million used prescription opioids.
In a West Virginia hospital nursery, one in five babies are born addicted to drugs, and many of them will likely lose at least one parent to a drug overdose, President Trump said.
The opioid epidemic is a national health emergency, he added, declaring that we must be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.
“[T]oday, my administration is effectively declaring the opioid crisis a national public health emergency under federal law,” Trump said, adding that he is directing all executive agencies to use every appropriate emergency authority to fight the opioid crisis.
As part of this response, Trump said he is lifting a restrictive 1970s rule that prevents states from providing care at certain treatment facilities with more than 16 beds for those suffering from drug addiction.
He announced that one specific opioid will be required to be taken off the market immediately. The cheap and deadly Fentanyl, manufactured in China, which is 50 times stronger than heroin, will be blocked from coming into the United States, Trump said.
He threatened that major lawsuits are soon coming against people and companies that are providing the drugs.
A report from The Hill noted that overdose deaths have doubled in the past decade.
“Drug use has actually declined among younger Americans, those between the ages of 12 and 17. But drug use has risen more precipitously among those over the age of 26, and especially among those over the age of 35,” The Hill reported.
President Trump referenced his older brother, Fred, whose struggle with alcoholism ultimately took his life, and said his brother always told him to never drink or smoke. He noted that a majority of drugs come into the United States from across the southern border.
We will face this challenge as a national family,” Trump promised.
Watch a video of President Trump’s announcement below: