In October 2017, President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency promising to free up resources to help fight addiction in America. In accordance with his doctrine of bigger, better, best Trump called the current epidemic the worst drug crisis in U.S. history.

The fact is, he was right. Americans are addicted to drugs like never before. Americans’ addictions to opioids are merely the result of poor regulation and the commercialization of these narcotics in our society.

There are few modern technologies that have progressed slower than medicine. There are so many illnesses doctors still do not know how to prevent or cure to date. This being said, people’s pain endures and patients die every day.

Drugs are a means of healing and coping with ailments that exist in our society. Opioids specifically offer immense benefits in regards to pain symptoms of all kinds, but things have simply gotten out of hand. The fact is, pain is profitable in capitalist America.

Pharmaceutical companies are always looking for the next “blockbuster” drug that will produce hundreds of millions of dollars. The lack of proper oversight of the industry has led to drug abuse ridden families all over the country.

The revenue from prescription opioids was valued at $8.5 billion in 2016 according to Financial Times. Why do we call it an epidemic? Call it what it is: the legal exploitation of the American healthcare system.

The only thing more appalling than the dire situation of opioid addiction in America is the fact that this issue was only addressed because of its effect on upper and middle class white families.

The only reason President Trump, a Republican, would even think about relinquishing government resources to something so profitable is because he thinks it affects those in his base.

A recent CNN article by Susan Scutti noted the findings of an Annals of Internal Medicine study that found cocaine causes overdoses among black men around the same rate of prescription opioids among white men. They also found black women were more susceptible to overdose than white women.

I must have missed the press conference and tweet where President Trump addressed the cocaine “epidemic” in America. There seems to be an empathetic approach to white overdose and an apathetic approach to those dying in the black community. White addicts get resources and rehab while black addiction gets worse.

The Trump administration is using the opioid crisis in America as a chance for a win. Curing or at least stifling overdose would merely give Trump something else to tweet about.

If Trump really cared about eliminating the “epidemic,” he would propose legislation to change the way pharmaceuticals are regulated in America, but he loves the money just as much as the drug companies do.

Justin Franklin is an 18-year-old mass communication freshman from Memphis, Tennessee.

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