New White House Drug Policy Targets Recovery, as National Overdose Deaths Spike 

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Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy Regina LaBelle announced that the Biden-Harris administration has released seven drug policy priorities proposing specific and targeted actions to promote recovery and reduce overdoses, reports

These actions include expanding access to quality treatment, enhancing harm reduction services to engage and build trust with people who use drugs, and working to reduce the increasingly lethal supply of illegal substances in the U.S.

LaBelle says addressing the overdose and addiction epidemic is an “urgent priority” for President Biden’s administration. In March, Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, which appropriated nearly $4 billion to allow the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to expand access to behavioral health services.

Meanwhile, NPR reports that that drug deaths spiked dramatically during the pandemic, up roughly 27 percent compared with the previous year, resulting in 88,000 deaths in the 12-month period ending in August 2020.

Americans aged 35 to 44 appear most at risk. The White House’s recently unveiled seven point plan to bring those numbers down involves removing bureaucratic hurdles that prevent many doctors from prescribing buprenorphine. The drug is proven to help patients with opioid use disorder avoid relapses. The plan also notes that President Biden has called for an end to incarceration for individuals struggling with substance use disorder.

While the plan can be implemented immediately, the administration has drawn criticism for failing to appoint an individual to permanently lead the Drug Enforcement Administration or the ONDCP.

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