For Trump, the solution to the opioid crisis is simple:
“Just say no.”
"If we can teach young people not to take drugs, it's really really easy not to take 'em," the president said today in an announcement at the White House declaring a public health emergency. He's asking for "really tough, really big advertising. So we can get to people before they start."
This is how Trump dodged addiction. His older brother, Fred, drank too much, and warned his younger brother off the sauce. "To this day, I've never had a drink," Trump said.
What he doesn't get: opioids aren't like tequila or brandy. Sometimes, opioids find you.
I'm an EMT on an ambulance, and we give opioids all the time. We give them to folks who rip their legs open in motorcycle accidents, who separate their shoulders skiing, who get stabbed. When these folks are in agony, screaming in the back of the ambulance, I never hear them say, "I'm sorry, the president said to say no."
No. They present their veins. They scream for more.
We try to give them as little as possible, while still managing their pain. First, because if you give even the tiniest bit too much of some opioids — especially fentanyl — you kill them by accident. You should see their chest rise and fall, get shallow, their breathing depress, after just a few grains of this drug. The only way to wake them is naloxone — and we give that to overdoses too much already. Second, we keep the dose light because we've seen too many patients start with fentanyl as a painkiller, get hooked on the pills, and then keep taking them after the injury has healed.
There's no easy answer to the opioid crisis. But the solution doesn't end with naloxone. And it's about a lot more than just Trump's worn-out notion of just say nope.
Guess how much money Trump is dumping into fixing the opioid crisis? Zero. Not enough to buy a bacon cheeseburger, let alone a vial of naloxone.
There's an easy source for money to fight the opioid crisis: marijuana.
In Colorado alone, the state has raked in more than $1 billion in taxes since the drug was legalized. That money has gone to the schools and to education about the dangers of marijuana.
The states with the worst opioid crises are also where marijuana is illegal. If those states legalized the drug, and used the tax money for treatment and for jobs programs, that could provide a foundation for reversing a tragedy that kills a plane-load of people every day.
"We must do everything in our power to stop this national tragedy," Trump said today.
If he's serious, he should start by putting money toward it. If he's looking for that money, states that have legalized weed know just the place to find it.