Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway offered her advice to a group of millennials Thursday, encouraging them to just eat more junk food instead of turning to opioids.
“On our college campuses, your folks are reading the labels, they won’t put any sugar in their body, they don’t eat carbs anymore, and they’re very, very fastidious about what goes into their body,” Conway said at a meeting with young people at the White House. “And then you buy a street drug for $5 or $10, it’s laced with fentanyl, and that’s it.”
Conway, who’s been charged with leading the White House’s efforts on managing the opioid crisis, encouraged students to take a different path.
“So I guess my short advice is, as somebody double your age: eat the ice cream, have the french fry, don’t buy the street drug,” she said. “Believe me, it all works out.”
In addition being poor health advice, Conway’s suggestion essentially sums up the administration’s plan for dealing with the opioid crisis, an epidemic that killed more Americans in 2016 alone than did the entire Vietnam War: Just ask people nicely not to do drugs.
At a speech Monday in New Hampshire, Trump reiterated his belief that we should have “great commercials… where you scare them,” a la the “Just Say No” campaigns of the Reagan era.
Before the event, reporters had been briefed on a policy plan for combating the epidemic, which Trump was going to lay out during the speech; instead, as the president is wont to do, Trump gave a long, winding speech that was mostly about whatever was on his mind at that moment.
Trump’s team is expected to require that doctors adhere to best CDC practices if they want to receive money from Medicare, Medicaid, or other publicly funded health care programs, and Trump even suggested in the speech that the administration would file litigation against major prescription drug companies that have trapped people in addictive cycles.
Though Trump and his allies often tout the administration’s work on opioids, they’ve done almost nothing since Trump took office. They have not declared additional funding to fight the opioid crisis, and they have not heeded the advice of their own Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which recommended expanding Medicaid.
Trump has also refused to negotiate reduced pricing for governmental units of naloxone, a lifesaving overdose drug, and has he not worked to negotiate reduced pricing for effective medication-assisted treatments. The administration has also refused to make it easier for doctors to prescribe buprenorphine, an addiction treatment drug, or even reimburse doctors for taking the course needed to get certified in buprenorphine treatment.
Trump seems to think none of that really matters, as he seems sure he has the silver bullet for ending the opioid crisis: Execute the drug dealers.
“This isn’t about being nice anymore,” Trump said at his New Hampshire earlier this week. “These are terrible people, and we have to get tough on those people. We can have all the blue-ribbon committees we want. But if we don’t get tough on the drug dealers, we’re wasting our time — just remember that, we’re wasting our time — and that toughness includes the death penalty.”