President Biden’s first drug-fighting strategy promotes increased use of the opioid antidote Naloxone, the giving away of syringes and a pledge to step up border enforcement to reduce drug trafficking, government officials said.
The president will submit the plan to Congress on Thursday amid a record number of drug overdose deaths in the US. In the 12 months ending November 2021, a total of 106,854 people died from overdoses, mainly from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
“The overdose epidemic is an urgent priority,” says Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Strategy. “This is the most dynamic drug environment we’ve ever seen in this country.”
dr. Gupta told reporters that the availability of Naloxone, which reverses the effects of opioid overdose, is a critical part of the government’s plan.
“All too often, these drugs end up in communities where Naloxone isn’t readily available,” he said. “The most important action we can take right now to save lives is to have Naloxone in the hands of everyone who needs it, without fear or judgment.”
A White House document states that the strategy “calls for greater access to harm-reduction interventions, including naloxone, drug test strips and syringe service programs.” It said federal agencies will be instructed to “integrate harm reduction into the U.S. health care system to save lives and increase access to treatment.”
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dr. Gupta said the government also wants to double the number of admissions to drug treatment facilities for those most at risk of overdose deaths.
Addiction and treatment programs have hit the president close to home. His son, Hunter Biden, struggles with an addiction to cracking cocaine and alcohol.
White House officials said stronger border security is another element of the plan. Aides said the president’s new budget includes a proposed $300 million increase for Customs and Border Protection, an agency overrun by a wave of migrants at the US-Mexico border.
The Dutch DPA recently announced plans to hire about 2,000 additional agents over the next three years. In 2021, the industry in El Paso, Texas, seized six times more fentanyl than in 2018.