DEA Administrator on opioid crisis: 'It scares the hell out of me'

Drug Enforcement Administration administrator Chuck Rosenberg talked to CBS News Friday about his agency’s efforts to do something about America’s opioid crisis. More than 50,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2015 alone. From CBS News:


“I don’t think we’re ever going to arrest or enforce or prosecute our way out of most social ills,” Drug Enforcement Administration administrator Chuck Rosenberg said in an interview you’ll see only on “CBS This Morning.”…

“I gotta tell you, it scares the hell out of me,” Rosenberg said, adding, “these things can be lethal, believe it or not, to the touch.”

In another era, the DEA would have responded with force alone. But in late 2015, Rosenberg launched a 360-degree strategy that blends traditional police work with public education.

“Changing behavior is tough. But we have to keep at it,” Rosenberg said. “We have to talk to middle and high school kids. … And we just have to be relentless about it.”

One of the cities where the DEA is running a pilot program to cut the number of overdoses is Louisville, Kentucky. CBS interviewed a Louisville paramedic, Mary Taylor, who now responds to as many as 25 overdose calls in a single day. When asked if she thinks the situation is improving she tells CBS, “I mean, it couldn’t get much worse.” Taylor wasn’t very optimistic about the Trump administration’s effort to improve the situation. She told CBS, “We’re all looking for a way to do it, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

Yesterday, President Trump announced that Governor Chris Christie would take an oversight role in administration efforts to combat the opioid crisis. From CNN:


“As I’ve said before addiction is not a moral failing, it is a disease and the more that we talk about it as a disease, treat it as a disease, regulate it as a disease, the more people will finally get the idea that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but it is in fact a sign of strength,” Christie said at a press conference last month.

At a CNN town hall meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price this month, addiction recovery specialist and former addict John Brogan credited Christie in part with saving lives in the state. “If it were not for Gov. Christie, there would be 100 more people on top of the 1,600 that we lost last year for this epidemic,” Brogan said.

This local news report on Trump’s “listening session” talks about some of Christie’s efforts to combat addiction in New Jersey:

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John Stossel 1:00 PM | June 15, 2024