President Obama’s administration is doubling down on efforts to reduce prescription opioid and heroin abuse across the nation after two major announcements in the past week.
Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released revised guidelines for the prescription of opioids for chronic pain. President Obama also announced that he would speak at the National Prescription Drug and Heroin Summit in Atlanta next week.
“The president’s trip to Atlanta follows his trip last year to West Virginia where he met with many people affected by the opioid epidemic,” says Michael Botticelli – Director of National Drug Control Policy. Botticelli hosted a conference call with reporters Tuesday to detail the Obama administration’s continued efforts to combat substance abuse.
“In West Virginia he announced a number of new public and private sector actions to address the epidemic, including a presidential memorandum on prescriber training and opioid use disorder treatment,” he says.
The revised CDC prescribing guidelines were not a direct result of Obama’s trip to West Virginia, but are a part of the efforts to reduce opioid and heroin use across the nation - particularly in hard hit areas like Appalachia. Botticelli says the guidelines are intended to be of particular help to primary care providers who currently account for prescribing nearly half of all opioids.
But the White House is not just looking to change policies in the fight against drug use. Earlier this month the federal government also awarded 94 million dollars to 271 health centers in 45 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Five clinics in West Virginia received more than one and a half million dollars of that grant money.
“These critical funds for states will help to improve and expand substance abuse disorder services with an emphasis on medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorders,” says Botticelli.
Botticelli says funding states is a critical piece of the federal strategy for combating the epidemic and that letters were sent out to all 50 governors highlighting best practices. These include requiring all providers to be trained in opioid prescription, requiring providers to use their state’s prescription drug monitoring program and supporting syringe services programs.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation.