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Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

President Trump Announces White House Efforts on Opioid Addiction

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On the campaign trail, President Trump vowed to help communities heavily impacted by opioid and heroin addiction. This week his administration took the first steps towards developing a national strategy on drug addiction by announcing the creation of a new White House commission on opioid addiction and naming a new acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON COMBATTING DRUG ADDICTION

On Wednesday, President Trump signed an executive order creating a high-level opioid commission. The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis will be led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has spoken out about the need to address the opioid crisis and the ever-rising overdose rate. “Addiction is a disease, and no life is disposable. We can help people by giving them appropriate treatment,” Christie told The Today Show from outside the White House Wednesday.

The commission is reported to also include the heads of four key agencies: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, Defense Secretary James Mattis and as many as five other members who aren’t federal employees. The commission will be administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

The participating members are instructed to:

  • Identify and describe existing Federal funding used to combat drug addiction and the opioid crisis;
  • Assess the availability and accessibility of drug addiction treatment services and overdose reversal throughout the country and identify areas that are underserved;
  • Identify and report on best practices for addiction prevention, including health care provider education and evaluation of prescription practices, and the use and effectiveness of State prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs);
  • Review the literature evaluating the effectiveness of educational messages for youth and adults with respect to prescription and illicit opioids; and
  • Identify and evaluate existing Federal programs to prevent and treat drug addiction for their scope and effectiveness, and make recommendations for improving these programs.

The commission is charged with making interim recommendations on improving the federal response to opioid addiction in the next three months and will produce a final report come October. After the final report, executive agencies are expected to take administrative and regulatory action to implement the commission’s recommendations.

Office of National Drug Control Policy

President Donald Trump has named Rich Baum, a longtime civil servant and former Republican Hill staffer who specializes in drug policy, as acting director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Baum is replacing Kemp Chester, who was appointed in November, and will serve until the Senate confirms a permanent director.

Baum now holds a critical role setting the national strategy on drug policing and addiction treatment. Baum has worked at ONDCP since 1997 and has spoken out about the need to tackle overseas drug cartels and against legalizing marijuana. In recent years, ONDCP’s efforts have focused heavily on recognizing addiction as a disease and a major public health problem. The National Council looks forward to working with Mr. Baum in his new role as Acting Director to continue the progress that has been made in the last decade.