Melania Trump gives keynote speech at DOJ's opioid summit

There was a 4% decrease in fatal opioid overdoses between 2017 and 2018

First lady Melania Trump delivered a keynote speech Friday at the Justice Department's 2020 National Opioid Summit.

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Both she and Attorney General William Barr noted there was a 4.6 percent decrease in fatal opioid overdoses between 2017 and 2018 for the first time in nearly three decades, even as fentanyl becomes a more prevalent substance across the country.

"As first lady of the U.S., finding solutions to our nation's drug problem is something I care deeply about, especially when it comes to its negative effects on children and families," Trump said.

First lady Melania Trump, left, accompanied by Attorney General William Barr, right, speaks at the Justice Department's National Opioid Summit at the Department of Justice, Friday, March 6, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The first lady relayed examples of the hospitals and organizations she has visited across the country where she has seen first-hand the direct impact of opioids on new mothers and newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), as well as the indirect but equally as harmful effects opioids have on children and families.

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"I was sad to learn that opioids have affected the lives of nearly 2.2 million children across the U.S.," Trump said, adding that "on average, babies born with NAS ... stay in hospitals four times longer than [healthy] babies."

Making an effort to keep children away from opioid and drug abuse, in general, is one of the three pillars of the first lady's "Be Best" campaign, which works with organizations and medical centers across the country to address the drug epidemic. The other two pillars of the campaign are centered on general well-being and online safety.

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Awareness and education are "crucial" to overcoming the crisis and create "a more hopeful world for our children," Trump said.

First lady Melania Trump smiles during a speech at the Justice Department's National Opioid Summit at the Department of Justice, Friday, March 6, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

She also thanked law enforcement for going "above and beyond the line of duty" to help combat the crisis, which oftentimes includes scenarios that put them in direct danger.

"When you remove drugs and drug dealers from our communities, you are protecting our communities ... and our children," Trump added. "We all need to come together to give our children the very best future."

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