Speed Reads

opioid crisis

Trump makes rare reference to late brother in calling for end to opioid epidemic

President Trump made rare mention of his late older brother Fred on Thursday while declaring the opioid crisis to be a national public health emergency.

Fred Trump Jr. suffered from alcoholism and died in 1981 at the age of 43. The president, who is famously a teetotaler, credited his older brother for steering him away from alcohol. "[Fred] had a problem with alcohol, and he would tell me, 'Don't drink,'" Trump said.

Trump went on to say that he has watched his friends struggle with alcohol over the years and that "the fact is, if we can teach young people and people generally not to start [taking drugs], it's really, really easy not to take them." He emphasized the importance of a "really tough, really big, really great advertising" campaign to raise awareness and added: "There is nothing desirable about drugs. They're bad."

The president also said that the government would require a particular "truly evil" opioid to be removed from the market, as well as promote research for non-addictive pain management techniques. Trump had been heavily criticized for not triggering a federal response to the crisis sooner, after saying he would make an announcement back in early August.

STAT estimated earlier this year that opioids could kill nearly 500,000 Americans in the next decade. Watch Trump's remarks about Fred below. Jeva Lange