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Biden Pledges Assertive Action to Address Opioid Crisis

Article published by Behavioral Healthcare Executive, Tome Valentino, Senior Editor.

Acknowledging that addiction is a crisis that “touches families in every community in red states and blue states, across all races and creeds,” President Joe Biden told Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit attendees in an address presented Monday that his administration is committed to facing the challenge head-on.

“The crisis is national, but the struggle is personal—deeply personal,” he said.

Biden became the third sitting U.S. president to address the Rx Summit, joining President Donald Trump in 2019 and President Barack Obama in 2016. Former President Bill Clinton also spoke at the Rx Summit in 2018.

WATCH: President Joe Biden Delivers Remarks to 2021 Rx Summit Participants

In its latest projections, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 88,000 individuals died from a drug overdose in the U.S. between August 2019 and August 2020, a 27% increase year-over-year that Biden said has been largely driven by social isolation and financial insecurity. Recently, he signed the American Rescue Plan, legislation that provides $4 billion to support mental health and substance use disorder treatment, including $1.5 billion for prevention and treatment initiatives, with $400 million earmarked for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics.

“We need to meet this crisis with urgent action,” Biden said, adding that the American Rescue Plan is “just the start.”

Biden said his administration is committed to expanding access to treatment, supporting proven recovery and prevention efforts, and reducing the supply of illicit substances coming into the U.S. Members of his administration are slated to discuss those measures in greater detail during the Rx Summit later this week.

“The addiction crisis has already taken so much, and I grieve with all those who have lost someone,” Biden said. “We also celebrate those who are recovering. We hold them in our hearts and commit ourselves to helping more families know the joy and relief of recovery.

“To those still struggling, I want you to know that I see you and that we’re going to beat this thing together. To those who have done so much to tackle this crisis and break the stigma of addiction, thank you, thank you, thank you. We are going to stand with you and get you the support and resources you need to overcome this crisis once and for all.”