Obama’s Answer To The Opioid Epidemic

The President’s 2017 Budget is making big strides in eradicating the deadly battle against opioid and heroin abuse in the country


At the 2016 State of the Union address recently President Obama unveiled a new budgetary measure allocating 15.8 billion dollars earmarked towards opioid and heroin abuse and prevention.  The landmark response makes history as President Obama will be the first President of the United States to approve such a call to action.  President Obama stated, “I hope we can work together this year on some bipartisan priorities like… helping people who are battling prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse.  So, who knows, we might surprise the cynics again.”

The 2017 budget will earmark $1.1 billion in new discretionary funds to combat the prescription opioid abuse and heroin use epidemic.

With this newfound bold position aimed at curtailing the opioid crisis and his financial support towards recovery and treatment programs, President Obama is taking unheralded action in the war against drugs in this country.  The plan will be under the helm of white house drug czar Michael Botticelli, and Sylvia Matthews Burwell, head of the United States Secretary of Health and Human services (HHS).  The floodgate announcement indicates that a new approach to battling the drug issues facing this country is being utilized.  One more in favor of a balanced and holistic blend of education, prevention and treatment/recovery efforts.

Formally submitted before U.S. Congress on February 9th, 2016, the 2017  budget includes the allocation of 15.8 billion dollars of federal funds diverted to the reduction of drug abuse in the United States through various prevention and treatment plans.  This sizable increase of nearly 1.1 billion dollars against 2016 numbers operates under the condition that the additional subsidies go towards to the treatment and recovery side of drug addiction as opposed to the traditional method of harsher judicial consequences.

The recovery facet of the program will be doled out based on two criteria: one being the severity of the problem faced in that particular state, with a close eye favoring toward opioid and heroin related instances, and the other being rooted in continual feedback and updating by the state explaining the efficacy of the newly implemented programs outlining how funds will be channeled in favor of evidence-based options with a special emphasis on medication-assisted treatment (MAT).  In conjunction with supply reduction subsidies, the total cost of implementing this grandiose measure are estimated at a behemoth figure of 31.1 billion dollars to wage the war against drugs on all fronts.

There remains no doubt that a response of this magnitude was needed in order to begin to make sweeping change in this drug addled country.  Prescription drug abuse and heroin related drug crimes and deaths have skyrocketed in the past several years with no discernible end in sight.  Figures from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that opioids were directly linked to an astounding 28,648 deaths in 2014.  The CDC also noted that of that figure there was a significant spike in  heroin related deaths and a steady upward trend in overdose deaths among synthetic drugs like fentanyl and prescription painkillers.  More Americans are now facing the increased prospect of losing their lives to a battle with drugs then behind the wheel of a motor vehicle as data now indicates for the first time that drug-related deaths in this country have surpassed automobile accidents.

The message is loud and clear something needs to be done and done so in a major way if we have any reasonable chance of overcoming this dreadful scourge to society.  President Obama’s budget increase is the right step in exacting change in this country one dollar at a time.