WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump instructed his administration Thursday to “use all appropriate emergency and other authorities” to help fight against the opioid epidemic.
The White House made the announcement just hours after Trump told reporters at his golf club in New Jersey that he was planning on declaring a national emergency to help combat the growing opioid addiction crisis.
“It is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had,” Trump said, according to a White House pool report. “You know when I was growing up, they had the LSD, and they had certain generations of drugs. There’s never been anything like what’s happened to this country over the last four or five years. … This is happening worldwide, but this is a national emergency, and we are drawing documents now to so attest.”
Trump also said the country will “spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.”
Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price hinted that such an announcement was imminent after meeting with Trump earlier this week.
“Well, the president certainly believes that we will treat it as an emergency – and it is an emergency,” Price told reporters on Tuesday. “When you have the capacity of Yankee Stadium or Dodger Stadium dying every single year in this nation, that’s a crisis that has to be given incredible attention, and the president is giving it that attention.”
A White House commission examining the opioid crisis recommended in late July that Trump declare a national emergency to help combat the rise in the number of people addicted to prescription painkillers or illegal drugs like heroin.
The number of people who died of opioid overdoses has quadrupled since 1999, with more than 33,000 deaths in 2015 involving some type of opioid. The epidemic has hit the rust belt particularly hard, with Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York each seeing more than 20 percent increases in opioid-related deaths from 2014 to 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.