WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Regina LaBelle, Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy, issued the following statement regarding the CDC’s release of provisional life expectancy data, which show lower expectancy in 2020 due to factors such as COVID-19 and an increase in unintentional injury deaths, including drug overdose deaths.

“The latest provisional data show lower life expectancy driven by COVID-19 and unintentional injury deaths, including overdoses, that have disproportionately devastated communities of color,” said Acting Director Regina LaBelle. “The Biden-Harris Administration is taking a focused, whole-of-government approach to drive down overdose deaths by treating substance use disorder as a chronic – not acute – condition. We’re working to expand access to prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery services for all communities. These numbers underscore how important our continued work is to bend the curve on this epidemic and save lives.”

Earlier this week, Acting Director LaBelle testified before the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control during a hearing entitled, “The Federal Response to the Drug Overdose Epidemic” and discussed the substantial actions taken by the Biden-Harris Administration to address addiction and the overdose epidemic. To view the Caucus on International Narcotics Control hearing, click here.

Since taking office, President Biden has identified addiction and the overdose epidemic as a priority in the United States. The Biden-Harris Administration’s first-year drug policy priorities include:

  • expanding access to evidence-based treatment;
  • advancing racial equity in our approach to drug policy;
  • enhancing evidence-based harm reduction efforts;
  • supporting evidence-based prevention efforts to reduce youth substance use;
  • reducing the supply of illicit substances;
  • advancing recovery-ready workplaces and expanding the addiction workforce; and
  • expanding access to recovery support services.

Advancing racial equity in our Nation’s drug policy includes identifying culturally competent, evidence-based practices for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to prevent and treat substance use disorder, as well as identifying criminal justice reforms. In June, Acting Director LaBelle testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and voiced support for the Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law Act (EQUAL Act), a bill that would remove the sentencing disparity that remains between sentences for crack versus powder cocaine.

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan was a down payment on these priorities, investing nearly $4 billion in behavioral health and substance use disorder supports. The President’s FY22 budget request calls for $10.7 billion to support research, prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, with targeted investments to meet the needs of populations at greatest risk for overdose and substance use disorder.

The FY22 budget request also includes significant investments in reducing the supply of illicit substances. In particular, it includes important increases in interdiction efforts, which include air and maritime activities to seize drugs in transit and deter access to routes, enhancements of source nations’ ability to interdict drugs, and efforts along the United States border to interdict the flow of drugs. The FY22 request also continues to support efforts to strengthen source country programs that address drug trafficking and corruption, strengthen the rule of law and anti-corruption activities, promote human rights, and support development programs.

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