Obama to include an additional $1.1 billion to fight drug abuse

February 4
4:15 AM 2016

As heroin and opioid drugs continue to cause more deaths than car accidents in the US, President Obama took proactive measures by way of seeking an additional $1.1 billion to fund the treatment of the addicts. The Obama administration announced this Tuesday that this dedicated fund will also be included for the next two years to fight this issue that has now turned into a full-fledged epidemic.

This additional amount would add to the already huge $400 million budget set aside for battling drug abuse, which in itself is $100 higher than previous year's spending. The director of National Drug Control Policy evidently supports this move and said, "This president has made clear that addressing this opioid epidemic is a priority for him, and this budget reflects this," and his action "underscores the urgency of additional action that we need to take," according to CNBC.

Drug overdoses have now reached unprecedented levels, and the latest data shows that opioids, which basically translate to prescription pain-killers and heroin, have led to 28,648 fatalities in 2014. The White House sympathizes with the families for their loss. They feel that "prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse have taken a heartbreaking toll on too many Americans and their families while straining resources of law enforcement and treatment programs."

As stated in The Columbian, most of the money from the new fund - $920 million - would go to cooperative agreements with states to provide easy access for the opioid patients to medication-assisted treatments. The distribution of this fund among the states would depend on the severity of the epidemic.

New Hampshire had been the most affected state, and, as per Independent, its governor Maggie Hassan was seen applauding the proposal in her statement, "The heroin and opioid crisis is the most urgent public health and public safety challenge facing New Hampshire, and combating this crisis requires us all to work together at the state, federal and local levels every single day. Our law enforcement community and public health experts across the state have made it clear that we cannot arrest our way out of this crisis, and I am encouraged by the President's recognition that states need additional support from our federal partners to support prevention, treatment and recovery programs."

Additionally, $50 million would be channelized via National Health Service Corps to expand medical services at around 700 treatment facilities. Another $30 million would be rightly set aside for evaluating these drug treatment programs that offer the remedial services.

Not content with just this action plan, the president has asked the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services for $500 million, which is $90 million higher than 2014 numbers. This fund will focus on increasing the medical-assisted treatments for addicts, expanding overdose prevention plans, and improving access to the emergency antidote, naloxone, which reverses the overdose. The departments will extend these facilities to rural areas as well where drug overdoses have become rampant. It would also ensure that medical practitioners and assistants can easily prescribe buprenorphine, an addiction treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

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