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Jenni Muns

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

White House Announces Initiative to Prioritize Addiction Treatment

August 20, 2015 | Opioid and Heroin Epidemic | Comments
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The White House announced this week its Heroin Response Strategy, a new initiative that will encourage and incentivize collaboration among public health and law enforcement officials in an effort to shift the emphasis from punishment to the treatment of people with addictions. Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy, said the initiative is part of the Administration’s goal to “expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use, increase access to treatment, and reduce overdose deaths.”

The initiative will initially involve $2.5 million in funding for one year in 15 states. The funding will create partnerships between public health coordinators and drug intelligence officers in these states to trace and report to health authorities where heroin is coming from, how and where the drug is being laced with a deadly additive, and who is distributing it to street-level dealers. First responders will also be trained on when and how to deploy medication that can reverse heroin and opioid overdoses.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has worked on efforts to curb the opioid and heroin epidemic in recent years, praised the White House’s plans. “This is a positive development for Kentucky’s efforts to fight the use of heroin that is hitting the Commonwealth [of Kentucky] particularly hard,” he said. “We must use federal resources to combat this epidemic in the most efficient and effective way possible, and I look forward to our continued efforts.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the death rate from drug overdoses nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013, with the cause of 60 percent of those deaths attributed to heroin.

Numerous bills aimed at addressing the opioid crisis have been introduced in Congress this year. Visit Capitol Connector for the latest news on the opioid and heroin crisis.