Biden Drug Control Plan Stresses Harm Reduction, Treatment

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Harm reduction is about reducing the risk of death and illness among drug users, while also trying to get them involved in treatment and care.

President Joe Biden is sending his administration’s first national drug control strategy to Congress as the U.S. overdose death toll hit a new record of nearly 107,000 during the past 12 months.

According to Dr. Rahul Gupta, White House drug czar, the strategy was released on Thursday. It is the first national plan that prioritizes harm reduction. This strategy aims to prevent drug-user deaths and illnesses and engage them in treatment.

This strategy calls for the adoption of new laws and policies in states to encourage harm reduction.

“All too often, these drugs wind up in communities where naloxone isn’t readily available,” Gupta said Wednesday, referring to the medication that can revive users who have overdosed, “where harm reduction services are restricted or underfunded, where there are unacceptable barriers to treatment.”

American Medical Association has argued for naloxone being made available over-the-counter. Harm reduction can also be achieved through the use of test strips that check for drugs such as fentanyl.

Harm reduction prevents overdoses, reduces the transmission of infectious diseases and “as declared in a recent congressional commission report, it has bipartisan support,” Gupta said.

Gupta, the first physician to be appointed as the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Director, will oversee the strategy. It also includes:

— Targeting the financial activities of transnational criminal organizations that manufacture and traffic illicit drugs in the United States.

— Reducing the supply of illicit drugs smuggled across U.S. borders.

— Improving data systems and research that guide drug policy.

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