The Biden administration sent its National Drug Control Strategy to Congress amid a record level of drug overdoses.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there were over 106,000 deaths from drug overdoses in the U.S. in the year ending last November, a figure that has been steadily rising in recent years, particularly during the pandemic, reports The Hill.
Rahul Gupta, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said many of the deaths are due to synthetic opioids like fentanyl, but also pointed to meth and cocaine.
“This is the most dynamic drug environment we have ever seen in this nation,” he said. "For far too many years, the overdose crisis has been unraveling the very social fabric of our nation and destroying American lives and livelihoods."
The White House plan is centered on increasing treatment for addiction while also fighting drug trafficking. It calls for greater access to naloxone, a drug to fight overdoses that first responders can carry.
It also includes measures aimed at boosting treatment for people at highest risk for overdoses, “which includes people experiencing homelessness [and] those who are incarcerated or re-entering society,” the White House said.
President Biden’s budget calls for a $3 billion increase for drug control efforts. “We need Congress to take action on this funding as soon as possible,” he said.
The budget seeks $300 million increases for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to aid in the strategy’s plans to disrupt trafficking of drugs across the border.
The federal plan also comes as a range of legal settlements with opioid makers and drug distributors is providing new funding to states to fight the epidemic.
New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday announced the distribution of the first round of payments to counties as part of a $1.5 billion settlement with opioid manufacturers and distributors.