Obama Has Big Plans to Combat Prescription Opioid, Heroin Abuse

By Brent McCluskey 02/11/15

The president's plan will boost drug monitoring programs, drug treatment, and the availability of naloxone.

President Barack Obama

In 2016, President Obama will be launching a counterattack on the drastically rising prescription opioid and heroin abuse in the US, and has allocated $100 million in his newly proposed budget to the cause. 

The plan includes funding states with prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP), improving treatment for addicts, and making naloxone readily available to first responders with the overall goal of reducing the number of opioid-related deaths.

In order to improve the effectiveness of preexisting PDMP, which help stop addicts from doctor shopping to get their prescriptions filled, Obama plans to increase the size of regulatory and law agencies involved in collecting the much-needed data.

The Obama administration plans to improve treatment of addicts by increasing funding for early intervention services and recovery programs, and hopes that putting naloxone in the hands of first responders will lower the amount of opioid-related deaths.

Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the chief medical officer at Phoenix House, a drug treatment provider, was originally dismayed at President Obama’s lack of response to the rising prescription opioid and heroin epidemic, but was pleased to hear of the administration’s new plan.

“For the first time, his administration is allocating significant funding for the opioid crisis,” Kolodny said. “I’m pleased to finally see this, but it’s very little, very late and only a small portion of the $100 million is for expanding access to opioid treatment addiction.”

But some, like Bob Twillman, executive director of the American Academy of Pain Management, feel the new plan is not enough to significantly impact the prescription opioid and heroin problem, pointing instead to a change in how doctors treat pain.

“I think what happens is when people go to the doctor now and they have pain, the first response from most prescribers and many doctors is okay, let me write you a prescription,” Twillman said. “I think there are a lot of other things we can do besides write prescription that will help people with their pain—and that’s especially true for people who have chronic pain.”

The $100 million allocated to the Obama administration’s new plan to combat the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic is only a fraction of the $27.6 billion allocated to support the administration’s overall drug control strategy.

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Brent McCluskey is a Social Media Editor at International Business Times as well as a Jedi with Sith tendencies.  He is also a reader of books, slayer of dragons, and level 80 mage.

“Yeah, I have a broad skill set. If I had to pick between being a Divergent or a wizard, I'd pick a wizard.”  His wizardness can be found on Twitter and Linkedin.