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Drug Information

August 2021 Update:

More than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose in the U.S. last year — a record number that reflects a rise of nearly 30% from 2019, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials said the increase was driven by the lethal prevalence of fentanyl as well as pandemic-related stressors and problems in accessing care.

"This is the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period, and the largest increase since at least 1999," Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told NPR.

The data is provisional as states are still reporting their tallies to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. But even with some data not yet complete, the numbers tell a dire story.

According to the data, 10 states saw a 40% jump in fatal overdoses compared to the previous 12 months. Those states are Vermont, Kentucky, South Carolina, West Virginia, Louisiana, California, Tennessee, Nebraska, Arkansas and Virginia. 

Government Policy

Harm Minimization & Treatment vs. Prevention

 Biden-Harris Administration's Drug Policy

( from

New data suggests that COVID-19 has exacerbated the epidemic, and increases in overdose mortality have underscored systemic inequities in our nation's approach to criminal justice and prevention, treatment, and recovery. 

President Biden has made clear that addressing the overdose and addiction epidemic is an urgent priority for his administration. In March, the President signed into law the American Rescue Plan, which appropriated  nearly $4 billion to enable the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration to expand access to vital behavioral health services. President Biden  has also said that people should not be incarcerated for drug use but should be offered treatment instead. The President has also emphasized the need to eradicate racial, gender, and economic inequities that currently exist in the criminal justice system.


The priorities provide guideposts to ensure that the federal government promotes evidence-based public health and public safety interventions. The priorities also emphasize several cross-based facets of the epidemic, namely by focusing on ensuring racial equity in drug policy and promoting harm-reduction efforts. The priorities are: 

  • Expanding access to evidence-based treatment.;

  • Advancing racial equity issues in our approach to drug policy;

  • Enhancing evidence-based harm reduction efforts;

  • Supporting evidence-based prevention efforts to reduce youth substance use;

  • Reducing the supply of illicit substances;

  • Advancing recovery-ready workplaces and expanding the addiction workforce; and

  • Expanding access to recovery support services.

President Donald J. Trump is

Taking Action on Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis

(October 26, 2017 from )



"The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place. If they don’t start, they won't have a problem."   President Donald J. Trump



Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost their lives to drug abuse, and it will only get worse unless action is taken. 

In 2016, more than two million Americans had an addiction to prescription or illicit opioids.

Since 2000, over 300,000 Americans have died from overdoses involving opioids.

Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury death in the United States, outnumbering both traffic crashes and gun-related deaths.

In 2015, there were 52,404 drug overdose deaths — 33,091 of those deaths, almost two-thirds, involved the use of opioids.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, the national age-adjusted rate of opioid overdose deaths in 2015 was 10.4 deaths per 100,000 Americans.

The situation has only gotten worse, with drug overdose deaths in 2016 expected to exceed 64,000. This represents a rate of 175 deaths a day. This exceeds the number of Americans killed during the Vietnam War.

The rise in overdose deaths is largely due to the proliferation of illicitly made fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid, and fentanyl analogs.

In 2016, more than 11.5 million Americans ages 12 and older reported misuse of prescription opioids in the past year, and nearly 950,000 Americans reported heroin use in the past year.

In 2014, the number of babies born drug-dependent had increased by 500 percent since 2000, and children being placed in foster care due in part to parental drug abuse is going up — now it is almost a third of all child removals.



President Donald J. Trump is mobilizing his entire Administration to address drug addiction and opioid abuse by directing the declaration of a Nationwide Public Health Emergency to address the opioids crisis.

The action allows for expanded access to telemedicine services, including services involving remote prescribing of medicine commonly used for substance abuse or mental health treatment.

The action helps overcome bureaucratic delays and inefficiencies in the hiring process, by allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to more quickly make temporary appointments of specialists with the tools and talent needed to respond effectively to our Nation’s ongoing public health emergency.

The actions allows the Department of Labor to issue dislocated worker grants to help workers who have been displaced from the workforce because of the opioid crisis, subject to available funding.

The action allows for shifting of resources within HIV/AIDS programs to help people eligible for those programs receive substance abuse treatment, which is important given the connection between HIV transmission and substance abuse.



The White House has moved quickly to address the drug addiction and opioid crisis, with the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis leading the way.

In March 2017, the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis was created with the following stated mission: “to study the scope and effectiveness of the Federal response to drug addiction and the opioid crisis and to make recommendations to the President for improving that response.”

More than $1 billion in funding has been allocated or spent directly addressing the drug addiction and opioid crisis.

Since April, more than $800 million has been distributed for prevention, treatment, first responders, prescription drug monitoring programs, recovery and other care in communities, inpatient settings, and correctional systems.

$254 million in funding for high-risk communities, law enforcement, and first responder coordination and work has been awarded.

The CDC has launched the Prescription Awareness Campaign, a multimedia awareness campaign featuring the real-life stories of people who have lost loved ones to prescription opioid overdose and people in recovery.

The Food and Drug Administration is imposing new requirements on the manufacturers of prescription opioids to help reverse the overprescribing that has fueled the crisis.

The Department of Justice’s Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit is targeting individuals that are contributing to the prescription opioid epidemic, has netted the largest-ever health care fraud takedown, secured the first-ever indictments against Chinese fentanyl manufacturers, and seized AlphaBay, the largest criminal marketplace on the Internet and a major source of fentanyl and heroin.

The State Department has secured a binding UN agreement making it harder for criminals to access fentanyl precursors ANPP and NPP.

The National Institutes of Health has initiated discussions with the pharmaceutical industry to establish a partnership to investigate non-addictive pain relievers and new addiction and overdose treatments, as well as a potential vaccine for addiction.

The Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, National Institutes of Health, and Department of Health and Human Services are collaborating on a six-year, $81 million joint research partnership focusing on nondrug approaches to managing pain in order to address the needs of service members and veterans.

Preventing an Opioid Overdose

Naloxone is a safe prescription medication used in adults and children for the treatment of an opioid emergency such as an overdose. It is to be given right away. It does NOT take the place of emergency medical care. It has no effect in people who are not taking opioid medicines so it can be given even if you are unsure. If you or someone you know is at risk of an opioid overdose, talk to your health care provider about obtaining a prescription for Naloxone. 

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