First Lady Melania Trump discussed emerging threats and solutions in a Thursday opioid crisis briefing at the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
ONDCP specialists shared various threats and programs to help assist Americans impacted by those suffering addiction in their families. Young mothers, youth, and families affected were highlighted for some of the discussion.
Director of National Drug Control Policy Jim Carroll recognized the first lady as an “outstanding champion” in the fight againstthe opioid epidemic. He thanked her for participation that morning in the Community Anti-Drug Coalition (CADCA) conference in National Harbor, Maryland. He pointed to the importance and effectiveness of peer-to-peer influence among America’s youth.
Associate Director of the National Opioids and Synthetics Coordination Group Kemp Chester shared statistics on the vast amount of drugs coming over the U.S. southern border with Mexico. “While we still have a substantial problem with heroin in the United States, all of which comes from Mexico, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and its analogs really have been the driver of the overdose deaths that we’ve seen in the United States,” said Chester.
Several other ONDCP officials shared the specifics of the continually emerging and evolving issues with the opioid epidemic, as well as what the office is doing to aid Americans affected. U.S. Customs and Border Protection canines have been one effective method of detecting drug traffickers’ attempts to smuggle into the country.
Officials noted the potency and deadliness of fentanyl, as well as a rapid increase in overdose deaths from that drug: 28,466 in 2017 alone. Documents provided the first lady detailed this as well as a sharp increase in cocaine related overdose deaths. The information displayed the routes for cocaine interdiction.
Mothers and adolescents were another focus during the briefing. The Department of Health and Human Services runs a $9.8 million pilot program to “support family-based services for women with a primary diagnosis of a substance use disorder.” The ONDCP officials highlighted other residential substance abuse treatment programs for pregnant and postpartum women.
Programs focused on treatment and recovery for adolescents receive $14 million to “enhance and expand comprehensive treatment, early intervention, and recovery support services for youths with substance abuse disorders and/or co-occuring mental disorders.” Adolescents served range in age from 12 to 18 years of age. Transitional-aged youth aged 18-25 and families and primary caregivers of these adolescents and transitional-aged youth are targeted through these programs.
The director and briefing participants pointed to the effectiveness of Drug-Free Communities (DFCs) which are youth-led, adult-guided groups.
First lady Trump thanked the group and asked questions about newly emerging substances that pose new challenges to not only those fighting the opioid epidemic, but also parents of youth who can easily conceal these small but dangerous drugs.