Today, Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), testified before the United States Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control on the topic of the 2022 National Drug Control Strategy and federal efforts to address addiction and the overdose epidemic.
During his opening testimony, Dr. Gupta said:
“This Strategy was released in a time of unprecedented challenges. For far too many years, the overdose crisis has been unravelling the very social fabric of our Nation and destroying American lives and livelihoods. Since 2015, annual overdose deaths in America have more than doubled. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the strain on our health care system and amplified the existing difficulties in accessing treatment for substance use disorder, which has helped exacerbate an overdose epidemic that was already getting worse prior to the pandemic.
“As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that overdoses claimed 107,622 lives in 2021 alone. This represents a life lost every five minutes. These are our family members, co-workers, neighbors and friends. Over the past two decades, more than one million Americans have lost their lives to overdoses, devastating their families, our communities, and nation as a whole. Behind these fatal overdoses, there are millions of individuals experiencing nonfatal overdoses that are overwhelming our first responders and the healthcare system. Underneath the overdoses are tens of millions of Americans suffering from substance use disorder….As the Office of National Drug Control Policy developed this Strategy, we focused on the fact that this epidemic is being driven largely by untreated addiction and the profit incentive for individuals and groups to engage in drug trafficking.
Gupta continued: “At this moment in history, our nation is at an inflection point where we must approach this crisis with a sense of urgency that prioritizes saving lives as our North Star. Our actions must rise to the occasion in being bold, far-reaching, and innovative but also compassionate, consequential, and evidence-based. The Biden-Harris Administration’s inaugural National Drug Control Strategy is an unprecedented, evidence-based blueprint designed to save lives immediately, build the infrastructure our nation so desperately needs for treating addiction, and disrupt drug trafficking and the profits that fuel it. The implementation of President Biden’s Strategy will help us save as many lives as possible while enhancing public safety for individuals and communities.”
To view Dr. Gupta’s full written testimony, click here.