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While we listen to the debates and see numerous election campaigns from our presidential candidates discussing what they are going to do about our current heroin epidemic, we know that they cannot always be held to their word. Meanwhile, our current President, Barack Obama, has already taken it upon himself to offer a lending hand to those struggling with addiction. Obama has submitted the request of $1.1 billion to assist in the payment of drug treatment for those who are addicted to prescription opioids and heroin. The money has been put in as a request for the upcoming fiscal year 2017 budget.

The money is set to be separated in the several key points of services as follows:

  • $920 million will be given to the state governments to ensure expanded access to medication-assisted resources for opioid drug treatment. The amount given to each state will be dependent upon the severity of the epidemic in that state along with how they plan to tackle the epidemic. With these grants the states can not only expand treatments, but also lower the overall cost to receive treatment.
  • $50 million will go to the National Health Service Corps to further access to roughly 700 substance use treatment providers. This will include medication-assisted treatment to communities that are in the most need.
  • $30 million will then be used to test the effectiveness of the programs using medication-assisted treatment and look for ways to further improve the programs.
  • ~$500 million, raised from $90 million, to go to the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services to establish more prevention strategies towards prescription overdose. Along with that expanding the availability of the overdose-reversal drug naloxone – which some states have already begun on their own.

The proposed budget request has already received a number of supporters behind it pushing for its approval. “Doing so will help deliver the necessary tools and resources to those who are fighting this crisis every day and, ultimately, save lives.” stated Senator Angus King as he urges others join him in supporting the budget. Michael Botticelli, the director of national drug control policy of the White House, made the point that while we are still struggling with the heightened drug problem we are seeing improvements made. Botticelli respects the direction being taken to combat the problem though he does not exhibit full support on that this is the solution to the problem at hand.

Whether the full budget is approved or even a portion will be money towards expanding treatment to addicts, this is certainly a step in the right direction. No matter where this legislation may lead us, it is a sure sign of a much needed improvement in reducing the stigma of addiction.