“The Department of Justice will seek the death penalty against drug traffickers when it’s appropriate under current law,” Andrew Bremberg, who leads the Domestic Policy Council, said on the briefing call.
White House officials would not answer what type of hypothetical case would involve the death penalty, referring questions to the Justice Department. Mr. Trump will also urge Congress to lower the threshold to use mandatory minimum sentences on opioid dealers, and will look for tougher criminal sentences on traffickers of certain drugs, such as fentanyl.
Kellyanne Conway, the White House counselor who has been the point person within the West Wing on the issue, cited grim statistics on the impact of opioids.
“More than 115 people a day die from opioid-related drug overdoses in this country, and in 2016, opioid overdose deaths surpassed breast cancer deaths,” she said. “Nine out of 10 new heroin users begin through an opioid prescription.”
The plan seeks to cut the number of opioid prescriptions filled by a third within three years, a restriction that will face opposition from critics who argue it could have unintended consequences for people with chronic and even acute pain, and that it instead could force some users to seek more dangerous drugs, like heroin and synthetic fentanyl.
Officials were vague about how the administration would reduce prescriptions, saying only that a main goal would be for prescribers for Medicaid, Medicare and other federal health programs to follow guidelines that the C.D.C. published two years ago. Those guidelines recommended that doctors first try ibuprofen and aspirin to treat pain, and that opioid treatment for short-term pain last no more than a week.
On addiction treatment, the plan includes little besides a vague goal of expanding access to “evidence-based addiction treatment” in every state, particularly for members of the military, veterans and their families and for people leaving jail or prison. Echoing public health experts, a White House official on Sunday’s conference call described the three medications used to blunt opioid cravings — buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone — as “the gold standard.”
Mr. Trump has declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency and proposed, in his budget plan last month, spending $10 billion on the epidemic over the next two fiscal years.
But the president also called for repealing the Affordable Care Act, which expanded Medicaid to cover much of the addiction treatment provided around the United States over the last few years.
Congress has already allotted $6 billion for fighting the epidemic over the next two years, but is still working out how exactly the money will be spent.
In the meantime, the 21st Century Cures Act, signed by President Barack Obama in 2016, is providing $1 billion through the end of 2018 for prevention and treatment. In comparison, the federal government spent about $21 billion in the 2017 fiscal year on domestic care and treatment for H.I.V. and AIDS.
The president will be heading to a key early primary state that handed him his first primary victory in 2016. Other Republicans who are considering challenges to the president have already started visiting the New Hampshire.
Mr. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, will be in Iowa on Monday, and the Trump campaign recently announced a campaign manager, Brad Parscale.