First lady Melania Trump said Tuesday it is high time the American media turned away from gossip to give serious attention to the opioid epidemic ravaging communities across the nation.
During a town hall-style event in Las Vegas, part of a two-day promotional tour for her “Be Best” initiative, she said that media should be making the national fight against deaths due to opioid abuse its crusade. The White House has made the battle against opioid abuse a national priority.
“I think it should be on every media and the front pages of the newspaper, and I’m sure a lot of people would follow and go home and talk with the children and educate them, so they are responsible adults and they show them how drugs can be dangerous,” she said, according to Fox News.
“I’d also like to take a moment to challenge the media to cover this very real issue as often as possible. In 2017, we lost at least 72,000 Americans to overdoses — that’s 197 lost American lives per day — more than 8 lost lives per hour. I challenge the press to devote as much time to the lives lost — and the potential lives that could be saved — by dedicating the same amount of coverage that you do to idle gossip or trivial stories,” she said.
“When we see breaking news on TV, or the front pages of newspapers, it is my hope that it can be about how many lives we were able to save through education and honest dialogue. We all have a real opportunity to help this country save lives, and I know these are the real issues that people care about,” she said, according to a transcript of her comments released by the White House.
Former Fox News host Eric Bolling joined the first lady to talk about the 2017 death of his son, who died from a fentanyl overdose at the college he attended, according to People.
“I don’t want to be an opioid expert … but what we’re doing here is trying to save one life,” he said. “I think we’re saving literally thousands, but one is enough.”
During her remarks, Melania Trump sought to paint a picture of the vast reach of the opioid crisis.
“The United States is by far the largest consumer of opioids, using more pills per person than any other country in the world. In fact, overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999 and now account for the majority of fatal drug overdoses,” she said.
“These overdoses are being driven by a huge increase in addiction to prescription painkillers, heroin and now fentanyl. No part of our society or our country has been spared from the deadly disease of drug addiction. As the statistics very clearly demonstrate, it is the worst drug crisis in American history.”
Proud of the work that is being done all across our nation to fight the opioid crisis. Thank you to @EricBolling for inviting me to talk about this important issue. #BeBest will continue to promote programs that help address this crisis. pic.twitter.com/e7oKBqBj3m
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) March 6, 2019
The first lady said that just as the crisis hides in plain sight among friends and neighbors, so, too, does the solution.
“I have said this before — but it bears repeating: While you may never personally become addicted, the chances of you knowing someone who struggles with it are high,” she said, according to USA Today. “Please educate yourselves so you know the signs of addiction, and also feel secure enough to talk about it, and keep talking about it until help arrives.”
“If even one of you leaves here today and talks to a friend or family member about the potential to end this crisis, then we have succeeded,” she noted.
Melania Trump has used her “Be Best” program to address cyberbullying.
Melania Trump said her focus on opioid abuse has one very vulnerable population at its core.
“When I took on opioid abuse as one of the pillars of my initiative Be Best, my focus has mainly been on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, which are conditions that occur when a baby withdraws from the drugs it was exposed to during pregnancy. After they are born, these innocent babies endure nausea, pain, anxiety, sleeplessness, and trouble eating – the same as adults who undergo detox. We must do all that we can to educate young mothers on the dangers of abusing drugs.”
Opioid abuse is not just about numbers, she reminded the audience.
“By thinking of this epidemic not just in terms of statistics, but as a human story, we have the potential to not just reduce, but eliminate the statistics I mentioned earlier. Together, we can support our next generation and work together to strengthen fragile families and communities,” she said.
She said she teaches her son Barron, 12, “how drugs are dangerous. It will mess up your head. It will mess up your body and nothing comes positive out of it.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.