Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: CAP Action Memo: Trump Breaks Promise to End the Opioid Crisis ‘Quickly, If I Win’
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Action Memo: Trump Breaks Promise to End the Opioid Crisis ‘Quickly, If I Win’

Washington, D.C. — Today, President Donald Trump will be in Atlanta to headline the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit to speak about drug abuse. During the 2016 campaign, President Trump repeatedly promised that his Administration would work to end the opioid crisis; however, opioid-related deaths have risen to an all-time high under his watch. Trump has not made the epidemic a budgetary priority, even as he has passed a $2 trillion tax cut that overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and continues to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which would devastate addiction treatment across the country. In addition, no where has Trump’s penchant for appointing unqualified political loyalists been more stark or more damaging.

Trump promise:

“We’ve gotta stop the drugs … It’s poisoning our youth and others. Our youth is being poisoned. People are being poisoned. And we’ve gotta get it stopped and we will get it stopped and we’re gonna get it stopped quickly if I win. Quickly.” – President Trump, September 1, 2016


  • Opioid related deaths have continued to rise to record levels during the Trump administration. There were at least 47,000 opioid overdose deaths in the United States in 2017.
    • Americans are now more likely to die from an opioid overdose than a car accident.
    • More Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2017 than both of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and 9/11 combined.
  • The most current data shows opioid overdose deaths increased by 12 percent during Trump’s first year in office.

Trump’s actions have done little to help:

  • Trump appointed a 24-year-old whose only professional experience after college was with the Trump campaign as a senior adviser for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
  • Trump charged White House adviser and former pollster Kellyanne Conway to lead the administration’s efforts on the opioid epidemic, freezing out career experts.
  • A government report finds that Trump’s opioid state of emergency declaration has yielded few results so far.
    • Trump has proposed allocating more money for a fabricated national emergency such as building a border wall than he has proposed on solving the opioid crisis.
    • Trump proposed to cut the ONDCP by $340 million and asked for a fraction ($6 billion) of what is needed to effectively combat this crisis, which, according to experts, is “tens of billions” of dollars annually.
  • Trump has continuously attempted to sabotage and repeal the ACA and its expansion of Medicaid, limiting access to substance abuse treatment for millions.
  • Trump’s original nominee for the ONDCP, former Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), withdrew his nomination after reports surfaced of legislation he sponsored as a member of Congress that shielded pharmaceutical companies from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis.

For more information on this topic or to talk to an expert, please contact Freedom Alexander Murphy at [email protected] or 202-796-9712.