The White House has launched a commission to fight drug addiction that will be chaired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who for years has spoken out on drug abuse, according to an article in the Washington Post. President Trump established the “President’s Commission to Combat Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis” by executive order.
Trump and the Republican governor led a “listening session” on the subject of addiction at the White House on March 29, convening Attorney General Jeff Sessions and several other Cabinet members, drug policy experts, and advocates.
“Opioid abuse has become a crippling problem throughout the United States,” Trump said at the session. “This is a total epidemic. And I think it’s almost untalked-about compared to the severity that we’re witnessing.”
Christie added: “Addiction is a disease, and it is a disease that can be treated.”
While Trump’s proposed budget spends an additional $500 million on prevention efforts and opioid treatment, that funding was approved during the last Congress and was signed into law by then President Obama—a point Democrats pushed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to acknowledge at a recent hearing.
The drug commission is part of the new White House Office of American Innovation, chaired by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Administrative support will be provided by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Trump’s executive order notes that the opioid crisis was responsible for more than 50,000 deaths in the United States in 2015.