The Biden administration is getting ready to commit billions of dollars to help fight the addiction epidemic. The President recently requested $10.7 billion from Congress to support medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and other mental health services.
Biden Hopes to Help Neglected Communities
Biden also wants his new drug policy to be one of recovery rather than incarceration. During his campaign, he expressed regret for how he and others dealt with the crack epidemic. Now, as a man whose son struggles with addiction, he understands that substance use disorder is a disease.
Sadly, in the 1990s, during the height of the crack epidemic in urban areas, addiction was treated as a moral failing. Thousands of Black Americans lost friends, families, and freedom to the crack epidemic. But after addicted people were incarcerated, Black families were fractured and criminalized, often leading to a cycle of trauma and poverty for the next generation.
Biden requested money for both urban and rural areas that have usually can’t afford treatment centers. Many regions rely on incarceration to rehabilitate addicted persons who are in the criminal justice system. It seems that Biden wants to help people restore their lives rather than punish them for years for a disease.
Biden’s New MAT Policies and Fentanyl Addiction
The money Biden has reserved is critical to helping more communities. The pandemic has caused a tragic and urgent call-to-action when it comes to the opioid epidemic. In one year, the US experienced 82,000 deaths, the most significant number of overdose deaths ever to be recorded in twelve months.
The Biden administration has also loosened restrictions for prescribing Suboxone, a form of Medication-Assisted Treatment that the FDA has called the “gold standard” for opioid addiction.
By freeing up funds and making evidence-based treatment available, the Biden administration hopes to turn the tide of the addiction epidemic. As a man with a family member struggling with addiction, it may be that President Biden has more understanding of addiction. He also seems to be listening carefully to the recommendations of public health experts and the medical community. The impact of expanded access won’t be seen for a year or two, but let’s hope it is a significant, life-saving effort that local governments put forward. The need has been urgent for years, and with the proper funding, it should make a huge impact.