As part of Overdose Awareness Week, today, Regina LaBelle, Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy, hosted more than 300 State, local, and Tribal leaders from all 50 States, Washington, D.C., American Samoa, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands for a virtual convening entitled “Opioid Litigation Settlement: Using Evidence to Lead Action.” At the convening, government officials, researchers, and experts discussed how State, local, and Tribal governments can use evidence and data to guide decisions about how funds from the opioid litigation can be spent to address addiction and the overdose epidemic, while advancing equity.
This convening comes at a critical time when overdose deaths have reached a record high. State, local and Tribal leaders across the country will soon make significant decisions about how to spend opioid litigation settlement funds. Today’s discussion centered around this historic opportunity to support those most impacted by addiction and the overdose epidemic. During the convening, Acting Director LaBelle emphasized the importance of expanding access to evidence-based treatment, harm reduction services, collecting and relying on data and research to measure community needs and drive actions, and addressing inequity and stigma in our Nation’s approach to drug policy.
The convening consisted of several sessions that covered topics including:
- The Biden-Harris Administration’s Drug Policy Priorities for Year One and actions taken to address addiction and the overdose epidemic;
- Principles to guide the use of opioid settlement funding developed by a diverse stakeholder group;
- Assessment tools to ensure community needs and racial equity guide spending decisions;
- Best practices in coordination and collaboration; and
- Examples of strategic spending, planning, and data collection from local and State leaders, including programs that promote evidence-based harm reduction services, advancement of equity in drug policy, and support for formerly incarcerated individuals.
Acting Director LaBelle closed out the discussion by focusing on the work that remains to address addiction and reduce overdose deaths, including the important roles of State, local, and Tribal leaders.