By DEB RIECHMANN , Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — First lady Melania Trump is calling the opioid epidemic the "worst drug crisis in American history" and says she is struck by how it has touched the lives of so many people.

Mrs. Trump is speaking Wednesday about the crisis at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. She says the stigma of shame must be lifted from addiction and calls for more public discussion about it so people can get help.

President Donald Trump has called it a "national health emergency" and she says his administration is committed to fighting the opioid epidemic. Mrs. Trump decries how the opioid crisis has "truly taken hold of our country."

Nearly 48,000 people died last year from overdoses involving opioids. Addressing the opioid epidemic is a pillar of the first lady's Be Best youth initiative.