The pill-popping presidency: Trump's team "awash in speed" and Xanax

An explosive Rolling Stone reports alleges that the Trump White House was rampant with the distribution of controlled substances like modafinil and Xanax, with little oversight. "The White House at that time was 'awash in speed,'" said one of the former senior administration officials to Rolling Stone.

The article, written by Noah Shachtman and Asawin Suebsaeng, cites a Defense Department inspector general's report and interviews with former senior administration officials. These sources describe a White House Medical Unit operating with lax standards, freely distributing stimulants and sedatives to staff.

The piece reveals that modafinil, a stimulant, was routinely used by staffers to stay alert, often after late nights working on Trump's speeches or foreign policy initiatives. Meanwhile, Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication, was easily obtained and commonly mixed with alcohol by senior officials, increasing health risks significantly.

The article suggests that such widespread access to powerful drugs might have contributed to the administration's chaotic and paranoid atmosphere. Here are a few of the quotes from people who were interviewed for the story:

  • "It was kind of like the Wild West. Things were pretty loose. Whatever someone needs, we were going to fill this."
  • "You try working for him and not chasing pills with alcohol."
  • "For us, you'd be on a flight with a president who never sleeps, and then you hit the ground running in a foreign country, and you have to be alert and ready for the president and other foreign leaders."
  • "The significant thing is these rules apply to everyone … except for the White House."
  • "The culture was toxic as fuck."
  • "I had a lot going on in my life and I wanted some."
  • "It was 'ironic' that Trump's White House was 'one place the war on drugs wasn't being fought.'"

The Rolling Stone investigation also highlights a breakdown in medical ethics and protocols within the White House Medical Unit, with prescription drugs dispensed without proper diagnoses or record-keeping.

See also: Why does Trump sniff so much?