First lady Melania Trump is asking the public to look beyond the raw numbers and to see the opioid crisis as a “human story.”
Mrs. Trump says that by thinking of the faces behind the statistics “we have the potential to not just reduce, but eliminate” the tens of thousands of deaths that are attributed to opioids annually. Federal statistics show that nearly 48,000 Americans died in 2017 after overdosing on the powerful painkillers.
The first lady spoke Tuesday during a town hall-style conversation in Las Vegas on the opioid epidemic. She is using the event to close a two-day, three-state tour to promote her “Be Best” initiative, which includes a focus on babies born dependent on opioids.
President Donald Trump has declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.
(Watch First Lady Melania Trump’s town hall)
For some Las Vegas residents Tuesday’s town hall on opioids, which was free and open to the public, was a chance to hear about a topic very near and dear to them.
“I just see mothers torn apart, and children that; children are really suffering right now,” said Amanda Ellis, attended the event.
“With this crisis, I think it’s a good opportunity for our community to be talking about this because it definitely affects us big time,” said Frederick Chamorro, a registered nurse.
Mrs. Trump gave a brief update on the administration’s efforts to combat opioid abuse in the United States. She touted $1.4 billion in grants for drug prevention and treatment, along with $50 million for police programs that focus on drug intervention.
When it comes to helping different authorities make a dent in the crisis, agencies like the U.S. Postal Service are involved because they’re looking for Fentanyl coming in from China.
“The United States Postal Service has strengthened its inspections of packages coming into our country,” the first lady said.
Mrs. Trump also talked about how important it is for parents to speak with their children about drugs by sharing what she says when she talks to her son Barron.
“I teach him — I try to explain how drugs are dangerous and it will mess up your head; it will mess up your body,” Mrs. Trump said.
The DEA’s acting administrator also spoke, making the case for a barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“From [the] DEA’s perspective, every barrier we can put up along the southwest border where most drugs come from will stop drug traffickers or slow drug traffickers down,” said Uttam Dhillon, the acting administrator for the DEA.
Whatever the solution may be, the audience Tuesday at the town hall left feeling hopeful for the future.
“I know change is on the horizon,” Ellis said. “I feel it, I see it every day; I’m working in the recovery community, and I’m telling you, it’s working.”
The First Lady launched her “Be Best” initiative last year. It focuses on raising awareness about child well-being, preventing cyberbullying, and drug abuse.
This was the third stop for the first lady on a two-day, three-city tour in support of her “Be Best” initiative.