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Gov’t Spending an Extra $100 Million on Drug Abuse
President Barack Obama has made drug addiction treatment a priority in his final years in office, particularly when it comes to getting non-violent drug offenders out of unnecessarily long prison sentences.
But despite his efforts, heroin overdose deaths have doubled between 2011 and 2013 and many states across the country are reporting increases in the number of their addicted residents.
The Funding of a War on Drugs
Obama requested $25.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2015 for a national drug control strategy that included increases funding for treatment and prevention efforts, as well as examining current policies and looking to revise them.
However, the President has now confirmed he will be adding an extra $100 million into the fight.
The Hill reported last month that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is awarded is providing grants to community health centers in 11 states of up to $33 million over three years. The purpose of the grants is to address opioid use disorders specifically and both expand and enhance treatment systems.
An additional one-third of the funding will be allotted for addiction-fighting medications. The Obama administration is also working to make it easier for states to obtain waivers that allow them to use “innovative treatment approaches” while still receiving federal funding.
“For those Americans who have fallen into opioid addiction and dependency, we can make the greatest impact by helping them move into recovery,” said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell.
“This funding will expand access to medication-assisted treatment and help states and community health centers continue to improve their responses to the opioid epidemic.”
Spending More to Ensure Treatment?
Some of the federal funding going to states is also now coming with strings attached to help further ensure better access to treatment.
Certain drug courts, which provide offenders with treatment instead of jail time, had prevented opioid addicts from receiving medication-assisted treatments like Suboxone, instead forcing an abstinence-only policy. But the Obama administration stepped in last February to say that would no longer be permitted.
Applicants for drug court grants are now required to allow access to opioid replacement medications and cannot force defendants to detox off them in order to participate in their programs.
“If they want our federal dollars, they cannot do that,” said Pamela Hyde, administrator of SAMSHA. “We are trying to make it clear that medication-assisted treatment is an appropriate approach to opioids.”
Representatives hope that showing not only a financial commitment to drug treatment, but also a commitment to make this funding stretch with groundbreaking policies, more addicted Americans than ever before will have an opportunity to get the help they truly need.
Additional Reading: 4 New Drug Policies You Should Know About
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