WASHINGTON, D.C. – New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that opioids were involved in 28,648 deaths in 2014. According to the White House, between 2002-2013, the number of heroin-related deaths in America nearly quadrupled.
The President announced Tuesday a proposal that would invest $1.1 billion in the 2017 budget proposal to address the epidemic.
“We need to take more action,” National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli said Tuesday. “There is a significant interest in helping to deal with this issue. Resources are part of the equation.”
According to the White House Press Office, the President’s proposal takes a 2-pronged approach. It includes $1 billion in new mandatory funding over 2 years to expand access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use.
“This funding will boost efforts to help individuals with an opioid use disorder seek treatment, successfully complete treatment and sustain recovery,” says Simone Leiro, an intern in the President’s Office of Digital Strategy.
The funding will include:
- $920 million to support cooperative agreements with states to expand access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. According to the White House, States will receive funds based on the severity of the epidemic and on the strength of their strategy to respond to it.
- $50 million in National Health Service Corps. funding to expand access to substance use treatment providers. According to the White House, this funding will help support approximately 700 health providers who can administer substance use disorder treatment services.
- $30 million to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment programs employing medication-assisted treatment under real-world conditions.
According to the White House, the budget proposal also contains $500 million to continue efforts with the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to expand state-level prescription drug overdose strategies.
“This proposal will not only expand access to help people start treatment, but help them successfully complete it and sustain their recovery,” says Leiro. “It will fund education, prevention, drug monitoring programs, and law enforcement efforts to keep illegal drugs out of our communities.”
Bill Piper, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, says the President’s strategy takes “one step forward” and “two steps back”.
“Half of what they’re doing is right – the focus on health and overdose prevention,” Piper tells Truthout Magazine. “But the other half, the side that focuses on the failed arrest and incarceration policies of the past, is destined to ruin lives and fail.”
One former corrections officer even told the magazine “it’s kind of like putting lipstick on a pig…They don’t need 15 drug intelligence officers. They need 1500 treatment professionals.”
A recent study found that 91% of people surviving opioid overdoses are prescribed more opioids for it. CVS Pharmacy has added Ohio and New York to a fast growing list of states where they will sell Naloxone, a known antidote to heroin overdose, without a prescription.