Trump White House led historic drop in opioid deaths, now fighting COVID-related overdose rise: Melania & others speak

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“The coronavirus pandemic has increased feelings of loneliness and sadness,” Melania Trump said Thursday at a White House roundtable marking National Recovery Month. “For vulnerable populations, it has also increased the risk of substance abuse.”

Before the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump White House presided over an historic drop in opioid-related deaths. However, the administration is now fighting a rise in drug overdoses stemming from mental health problems tied to COVID-19.

Americans disturbed by the ongoing, widespread shutdown due to the coronavirus say politicians ordering social isolation to slow the spread of COVID-19 must also weigh the effects of mental illness triggered by the closures.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that drug overdose deaths in the United States fell for the first time since 1990, dropping from a little over 70,000 deaths in 2017 to 68,557 in 2018.

“More than 40 states have reported increases in opioid-related mortality as well as ongoing concerns for those with a mental illness or substance use disorder in counties and other areas within the state,” the American Medical Association noted last month. “This also includes new reports about the need for evidence-based harm reduction services, including sterile needle and syringe services and [overdose prevention medication] naloxone.”

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at the Department of Health and Human Services designated September as National Recovery Month.


On Thursday, the first lady also encouraged more employers to eliminate stigma around addiction by creating work environments and hiring procedures that give recovering addicts another chance at stabilizing.

“[I]n my time as first lady, I have traveled to hospitals and rehabilitation centers around the county and have seen the devastating results of drug abuse and addiction,” she said. “I have learned that addiction and drug abuse are universal issues that do not discriminate based on income, age, race, or wherever you live. I believe that promoting education and awareness on this issue is critical to overcoming this terrible trend, which is why I am joining you here today.”

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