Trump’s Focus on Combating Opioid Crisis Reflects Late Brother’s Struggle with Alcoholism

August 8, 2019 Updated: August 8, 2019

President Donald Trump said that his brother Fred Trump’s experience with alcoholism has helped drive him to fight the opioid crisis and reflect on how he had “put pressure” on his brother, expressing regret for doing so.

Trump recalled arriving home in the 1960s and finding Fred Jr. reading books about aviation because he wanted to be a pilot.

“Come on, Freddy, what are you doing?” Trump said in his book “Art of the Deal.” “You’re wasting your time.” Their father also disapproved.

Trump said his experience with his brother, who later became an alcoholic and died in 1981 from a heart attack, drives his administration’s battle with opioids, which have ravaged parts of America.

“I do regret having put pressure on him,” Trump told the Washington Post in a recent interview.

Running the family business “was just something he was never going to want” to do. “It was just not his thing. . . . I think the mistake that we made was we assumed that everybody would like it,” Trump added. “That would be the biggest mistake. . . . There was sort of a double pressure put on him.”

President Donald Trump delivers remarks about a trade deal with the European Union in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Aug. 02, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

It was not clear what the president said in the portions of the missing quotes, shown in the Post article. The Post has not published a full transcript of the interview, which it said was in response to friends of Fred claiming Trump has portrayed his brother too harshly while not taking on enough blame for his apparent role in his demise.

The Post is almost unilaterally against Trump, rarely publishing positive stories about him and promulgating unsubstantiated stories pushing the Russia-Trump conspiracy theory.

According to Bob Kavula, a retired pilot and vice president of the TWA Retired Pilots Association, Fred Jr. was fired after one year because of his “drinking problem.” One of Fred’s friends disputed that account, claiming the younger Trump left to join the family business.

Trump was asked by the Post “whether he did anything to help his brother fight [alcohlism].” He said he often visited with Fred, adding: “I don’t think there was much we could do at the time . . . . Things have been studied and learned right now that are much different.”

In this Dec. 19, 2014 photo, alcohol bottles, their contents replaced with colored water, sit on a shelf in the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s research alcohol bar at National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Trump said his brother’s battle with alcohol addiction prompted him to never drink, fearing a single imbibement would lead to alcoholism.

“I had a brother, Fred. Great guy, best-looking guy, best personality, much better than mine,” Trump said during a speech in 2017. “But he had a problem. He had a problem with alcohol.” He said Fred would tell him, “Don’t drink, don’t drink,” and thus he has never had a drink.

“I guess you could say now I’m the chief of trying to solve it,” Trump said. “I don’t know that I’d be working, devoting the kind of time and energy and even the money we are allocating to it. . . . I don’t know that I’d be doing that had I not had the experience with Fred.”

Trump, who donates all of his paychecks to government agencies, donated his salary from the third quarter of 2018 to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The agency researches alcoholism and other health and developmental effects of alcohol use.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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