Attorney General Jeff Sessions thinks the U.S. could easily combat the growing opioid crisis by taking over-the-counter medications for pain and “tough it out.”
“I am operating on the assumption that this country prescribes too many opioids,” Sessions said Wednesday as he touted the Trump administration’s efforts to combat drug abuse and trafficking. “People need to take some aspirin sometimes and tough it out a little.”
Sessions made the during a 25-minute speech to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa Bay, Fla., according to the Tampa Bay Times.
He went on to describe how White House chief of staff and former Marine Gen. John Kelly refused opioids after a recent minor surgery.
“He goes, ‘I’m not taking any drugs,'” Sessions said, imitating Kelly’s voice and drawing a round of laughter from the crowd. “But, I mean, a lot of people — you can get through these things.”
A day earlier, Sessions made a similar suggestion at a Heritage Foundation event celebrating the birthday of President Ronald Reagan.
Sessions blasted marijuana as a gateway drug and lamented the country’s more permissive attitude toward pot.
He pointed at weed use as a path toward opioid addiction, although most research shows that heroin use often starts with prescription abuse.
Opioid pills “become so addictive,” Sessions added.
“The DEA said that a huge percentage of the heroin addictions starts with prescriptions. That may be an exaggerated number — they had it as high as 80 percent. We think a lot of this is starting with marijuana and other drugs,” he said.
His comments fly in the face of most major research.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that nearly half of all teens who inject heroin reported abusing prescription opioids first.
While opioid overdoses are killing more than 175 Americans a day, a federally funded study by the RAND Corp. released this week revealed that states with legal medical marijuana have fewer opioid deaths.