Biden administration authorizes $1.6 billion toward fighting opioid addiction

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The grants from the Department of Health and Human Services are just the latest steps taken by the White House to address addiction in America.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on Friday that over $1.6 billion in grants are being awarded around the country as part of ongoing efforts to address addiction to opioids.

The department stated that funds will go towards assisting state, tribal, and rural organizations via the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration, both inter-department agencies of HHS.

“Through these grants, we are investing in evidence-based supports and services for individuals, families, and communities on the road to recovery,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said along with the announcement. “Through these grants, we are investing in hope.”

The White House included the new grants as part of a slate of actions enacted during September, which is National Recovery Month following a proclamation by President Joe Biden on Aug. 31. They added that the Food and Drug Administration has also released guidelines to assist the distribution of naloxone, which is used to reverse overdoses of opioids.

Additionally, the White House referenced their previous announcement from April that the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) had delegated $275 million in funding to combat drug trafficking.

This follows President Biden's previously announced plans to increase funding for drug “prevention, treatment, harm reduction and recovery” during his first State of the Union address delivered on March 1, as part of his agenda of "unity."

Biden also signed an executive order in December 2021, granting the Department of the Treasury the powers to investigate foreign parties involved in drug trafficking, subjecting them to financial sanctions. So far, the department has designated exactly 27 individuals and 17 other entities involved in illicit trade, the White House said on Friday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calculated at least 68,630 overdose deaths in 2020 that involved opioids, representing 74.8% of all deaths due to overdoses they tracked.

The Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010 under the Obama administration when Biden was president, has provided government support for opioid treatment. According to the Urban Institute, more than 500,000 low-income Americans would be at risk of losing opioid treatment options included following expansion of Medicaid in the health care law.

During former President Donald Trump's administration, Republicans attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and Trump proposed cuts to the budgets of both the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Medicaid.

During his failed reelection campaign, Trump mocked Biden’s son Hunter Biden for his struggles with drug addiction.

“Hunter got thrown out of the military. He was thrown out, dishonorably discharged for cocaine use,” Trump said during the first presidential debate in Sept. 29, 2020.

“My son, like a lot of people, like a lot of people you know at home, had a drug problem. He's overtaken it. He's fixed it. He's worked on it. And I'm proud of him,” Biden responded.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.