Watch CBS News

Critics say Trump's opioid announcement doesn't go far enough

Trump on opioids
Trump declares opioid epidemic a public health emergency 02:49

WASHINGTON -- Opioids are responsible for the overwhelming majority of drug deaths, which have grown dramatically from just under 17,000 in 1999 to 52,000 in 2015 -- a more than 200 percent increase.

President Trump declared a public health emergency on Thursday to fight the epidemic. But critics were quick to say that does not provide the money needed to get the job done.

Mr. Trump stopped short of declaring the opioid crisis a national emergency, opting instead for a public health emergency declaration. It will streamline some access to addiction treatment but provides few new resources.

"We owe it to our children and to our country to do everything in our power to address this national shame and this human tragedy," Mr. Trump said.

Financing comes from the public health emergency fund which has a balance of just over $56,000. The federal government estimates combating the crisis costs $75 billion per year. Nearly 12 million people misused opioids last year.

"I'm saying officially, right now, it is an emergency. It's a national emergency," Mr. Trump said in August.

The president said he would declare a national opioid emergency which would have provided access to billions in federal funds.

Michael Botticelli CBS News

Michael Botticelli, drug czar under President Obama and executive director of the Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center, said Thursday's announcement didn't go far enough.

"Without any additional resource allocation, it doesn't really make a difference what we call it," Botticelli said. "I unfortunately think it's largely rhetoric and very shallow in terms of really taking major actions against the epidemic."

In his speech, Mr. Trump talked about addiction in personal terms. He cited his brother, Fred, who died at 43 of alcoholism.

"He would tell me don't drink, don't drink. He was substantially older and I listened to him," Mr. Trump.

Gary Mendell's son committed suicide after years of struggling with addiction.

"It's shifting the way that our society thinks about this disease," Mendell told CBS News. "What he spoke about today is a great first step in reducing the shame and stigma that goes along with this disease. But I want to emphasize first step. It's not one speech or one remark."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.