'Wrong Way to Go': Experts Warn Trump Opioid Declaration Could Revitalize Failed War on Drugs

Drug policy experts are critical of the praise that some have given President Donald Trump following his announcement Thursday that he would classify the opioid epidemic a national emergency.

An emergency declaration regarding a public health crisis can put pressure on Congress to increase funding and resources to help combat the issue. But according to Trump’s statement on Wednesday about the opioid epidemic, which killed more than 30,000 people in 2015, his strategy in combating it will be focused far more on prosecuting drug offenders and urging young people to “just say no” to drugs, than it will on treating the two million Americans who struggle with opioid addition.

Public health experts from government agencies and advocacy groups have long said the epidemic should be treated as a public health crisis and not as a crime problem. And the effectiveness of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” initiative in the 1980s has been called into question.

With Trump’s plans to crack down on drug offenders in mind, civil rights advocates are skeptical of his declaration.