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Administration Releases Drug Policy Priorities

The Office of National Drug Control Policy on April 1 released the Biden administration’s drug policy priorities for 2021.

The document notes that overdose death increased 35 percent since 2015, reaching a record high of 70,630 deaths in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this problem, and increases in overdose mortality underscore systemic inequities in the country’s approach to criminal justice and prevention, treatment, and recovery.

In the document, the administration promotes evidence-based public health and public safety interventions and outlines several priorities, including to:

  • expand access to evidence-based treatment by removing barriers to substance use disorder (SUD) medication and telehealth services, evaluating progress on the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, and developing policies to help pregnant women with SUD access addiction treatment;
  • advance racial equity by identifying data gaps and developing a drug budget to target resources to address equity, as well as promoting integration of the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services for SUD providers;
  • enhance evidence-based harm reduction efforts, such as syringe services programs (SSPs), identity state laws that limit access to SSPs and naloxone, examine naloxone availability, and promote fentanyl test strip services;
  • support evidence-based prevention efforts to reduce youth substance use by ensuring federally funded programs use evidence-based approaches, updating prevention curricula for school-aged children, and identifying opportunities in communities with high rates of adverse childhood experiences;
  • reduce the supply of illicit substances by strengthening the federal government’s ability to disrupt the supply chain and supporting law enforcement efforts;
  • advance recovery-ready workplaces and expand the addiction workforce by removing barriers to employment, expanding the bilingual workforce, and supporting addiction training for providers; and
  • expand access to recovery support services by developing sustainability protocols for recovery housing, including payment models, and engaging people with experience in drug policy development.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Julie Kozminski is a senior policy analyst at America's Essential Hospitals.

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