Donald Trump’s Drug Prevention Policy…So Far

On November 8th, the country made its choice regarding which candidate it wanted as its next Commander-in-Chief. Amidst the tumult, uncertainty and fair amount of political venom of one of the most bizarre and divisive presidential election cycles in modern American history, it would appear that the dust of campaign season is beginning to settle; and while many are finding the results to be problematic and unsettling, institutional consensus dictates the country move forward and that President-Elect Trump focus on policy. This includes taking on the drug addiction problem that has become the most deadly and pervasive public health issue facing the United States, claiming over 47,000 American lives at its peak in 2014.

Thus far, it would appear that Trump’s drug prevention policy is a mixed bag of treatment and enforcement. An October 15th speech in New Hampshire put him on record as favoring increased mandatory minimum sentences, a position echoed and implemented by VP-Elect Mike Pence when was he was Governor of Indiana. On the other side of the coin, President-Elect Trump favors increased access to medication-assisted treatment through increasing patient caps on buprenorphine dispensation and loosening restrictions on prescribing physicians. He also believes that the Food and Drug Administration takes too long in approving opioid treatment drugs.

One way a Trump Administration may negatively impact the upward trajectory of treatment access is by fulfilling his promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a law that has significantly increased access and funding of addiction treatment, and has solidified addiction as a bona fide medical illness in the eyes of clinicians and the insurance industry. It’s not clear as to how much of the ACA is slated for change or repeal; however, the impact on the thousands of Americans who have struggled in the past to get quality treatment could be significant. Ultimately we will have to wait and see exactly what a Trump presidency means for the current and future recovery population.