Trump takes Christie’s advice and declares addiction crisis ‘national emergency’
BEDMINSTER — President Donald Trump on Thursday declared the national opioid crisis a "national emergency" after a drug commission led by Gov. Chris Christie called on his administration to do so.
"The opioid crisis is an emergency. And I am saying officially right now: It is an emergency, it's a national emergency. We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis," Trump told reporters at this Somerset County golf club.
A recent report from the Christie-led commission equated the 142 deaths each day from drug overdoses to the death toll of "September 11th every three weeks."
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price seemed to suggest after a briefing this week that the president was leaning against the recommendation, arguing that the administration could deploy the necessary resources and attention to deal with the crisis without declaring a national emergency.
Still, Price stressed that "all things" were "on the table for the president."
Trump said Thursday that the nation's addiction to opioids is "a serious problem, the likes of which we have never had."
Christie on Thursday thanked the president, whom he often describes as a close friend, for the declaration.
"It is a national emergency and the president has confirmed that through his words and actions today, and he deserves great credit for doing so," Christie said in a statement released by his spokesman.
"As I have said before, I am completely confident that the president will address this problem aggressively and do all he can to alleviate the suffering and loss of scores of families in every corner of our country. We look forward to continuing the Commission's efforts and to working with this president to address the approximately 142 deaths a day from drug overdoses in the United States."
Listeners of New Jersey 101.5's "Ask the Governor" know that Christie has been talking for year about drug addiction and changing the way the state's courts handle drug abuse.
Christie was appointed to the president's drug task force earlier this year. In March, Christie said he had spoken to Trump about the opioid crisis "many times" and revealed that Trump was "very concerned about it."
Under Christie, the state's Drug Court program was expanded, making it mandatory for nonviolent drug offenders who are placed in rehab instead of jail.
The Christie administration also implemented new rules limiting the prescriptions of pain pills, which many experts have blamed in part for the heroin and opioid addiction crisis. That change has been one of the most controversial aspects of Christie's reforms.
Another person who disagrees with Christie is New Jersey 101.5 host Judi Franco, who sparked fierce debate with her argument against calling addiction a "disease." It's an opinion many health professionals would disagree with, but the message struck a chord with many listeners.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.