Biden Administration Plan Tackles Drug Addiction Crisis

Government funding for the drug addiction crisis is on the way.

The Biden Administration revealed its first-year plan to address the nation’s addiction crisis, with 7 priorities highlighted and a focus on the inequality of treatment access. 

“The overdose and addiction crisis has taken a heartbreaking toll on far too many Americans and their families. Since 2015, overdose death numbers have risen 35 percent, reaching a historic high of 70,630 deaths in 2019. This is a greater rate of increase than for any other type of injury death in the United States. Though illicitly manufactured fentanyl and synthetic opioids other than methadone (SOOTM) have been the primary driver behind the increase, overdose deaths involving cocaine and other psychostimulants, like methamphetamine, have also risen in recent years, particularly in combination with SOOTM,” the Biden Administration statement read.1 “New data suggest that COVID-19 has exacerbated the epidemic, and increases in overdose mortality have underscored systemic inequities in our nation’s approach to criminal justice and prevention, treatment, and recovery.”

The 7 priorities are as follows:

1) Expanding access to evidence-based treatment

2) Advancing racial equity in our approach to drug policy

3) Enhancing evidence-based harm reduction efforts

4) Supporting evidence-based prevention efforts to reduce youth substance use

5) Reducing the supply of illicit substances

6) Advancing recovery-ready workplaces and expanding the addiction workforce; and

7) Expand access to recovery support services.

Susan R. Bailey, MD, American Medical Association President, had this to say: “The agenda outlined today by the Biden Administration tackles overdoses and substance use disorder head-on in ways that will reduce stigma and remove barriers to treatment. The AMA strongly supports the approaches outlined, including: increasing access to evidence-based treatment for patients with substance use disorders—with particular emphasis on removing unnecessary barriers to prescribing buprenorphine—enforcing mental health and substance use parity, advancing racial equity, and enhancing harm-reduction efforts.”2

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will direct $1.65 billion in Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant funding and $825 million in Community Mental Health Services Block Grant funding to states and territories.

“Focusing on both mental and substance use disorders—challenges that pre-date the COVID-19 pandemic but that have worsened over the past year—will be a crucial part of SAMHSA’s approach to helping the nation move forward,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Tom Coderre.3

The Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant program will allow states to focus and evaluate measures to prevent and treat substance use disorder. Specifically, funding will allow recipients to maximize the efficiency of current treatments and address local needs to ensure substance use disorder prevention.

The Community Mental Health Services Block Grant program will allow states to provide comprehensive community mental health services and address gaps in treatment services for those with severe mental illnesses.

References

1. Executive Office of the President, Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Biden-Harris Administration’s statement of drug policy priorities for year one. Accessed April 1, 2021. https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/BidenHarris-Statement-of-Drug-Policy-Priorities-April-1.pdf

2. American Medical Association. AMA applauds Biden Administration’s first-year drug policy priorities. News release. April 1, 2021. https://www.ama-assn.org/press-center/ama-statements/ama-applauds-biden-administration-s-first-year-drug-policy-priorities

3. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. With pandemic worsening the mental illness and addiction crisis, Biden Administration to provide nearly $2.5 billion to states, territories for treatment, prevention aid. News release. March 11, 2021. https://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/press-announcements/202103110230