Donald Trump appealed to his late brother’s struggle with addiction while declaring the opioid crisis a national public health emergency Thursday afternoon, an issue he plans to tackle in part by employing “really tough, really big advertising,” telling kids in a very serious voice that drugs are “bad,” and allocating no new money to fight the epidemic.
“If we can teach young people and people generally not to start, it’s really, really easy not to take them,” Donald Trump, a public health genius, said. “There is is nothing desirable about drugs. They’re bad.”
Original and catchy! Now they just need to fit it on a child’s-size T-shirt.
Trump went on to say he learned to avoid drugs and alcohol by watching his brother Fred’s struggle with alcoholism, which made for a “very, very, very tough life.”
“To this day I’ve never had a drink,” he said. “To this day I’ve never had a cigarette.”
If all that sounds a lot like preaching Nancy Reagan’s “JUST SAY NO” gospel, that’s because it literally is. With decades between Reagan’s incarnation and Trump’s speech today, we now also know that strategy works about as well as abstinence-only sex education, and completely discounts the complicated web of social and economic factors that have converged in the areas worst hit by the opioid epidemic.
Framing drug addiction as a person’s own moral failing, one they can be cured of through shaming and scolding, rather than a broader societal problem, is far from new. But unfortunately enough for those already living in poverty and the grip of addiction, who desperately needed help yesterday, this administration won’t help them.