Washington, D.C. – Last week, Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), traveled to West Virginia for a series of events with community leaders to discuss local and national efforts to address the overdose epidemic to enhance public health and public safety. During his visit, he discussed President Biden’s actions to save lives, beat the opioid crisis, and strengthen public safety. These include the surge against illicit fentanyl the President announced in the State of the Union, the release of the President’s National Drug Control Strategy, and the many steps the Administration has taken to expand access to care and get states across the country the resources they need to respond to this public health and public safety crisis. These efforts so far have resulted in overdose deaths in the U.S. flattening in 2022 after a period of sharp increase from 2019 to 2021. This includes an 8% drop in overdose deaths in West Virginia in 2022. Since coming into office, the Biden-Harris Administration has awarded more than $15 billion to the state to improve the health of West Virginians, including those suffering from addiction.

“During my time as a physician and state health official in West Virginia, I saw the toll the overdose epidemic had on our state firsthand,” said Dr. Gupta. “It was heartening to see the progress being made to expand treatment for mental health and substance use disorders across the state. The Biden-Harris Administration has made supporting these efforts in West Virginia and other states a top priority, and we are committed to working hand-in-hand to ensure people get the resources they need. At the same time, we need community-driven solutions to address substance use disorder locally, and I’m grateful to have met with so many people doing this – from students and faculty, to local and state officials, to health care providers and people in recovery. President Biden and his Administration are committed to helping West Virginians stay healthy and thrive.”

Dr. Gupta began his visit to West Virginia in Morgantown on Thursday, June 8, meeting with students, faculty, and community members at West Virginia University (WVU). Dr. Gupta held a roundtable discussion on campus to hear more about the local efforts to address the overdose crisis, break down barriers to care, and eliminate stigma. Dr. Gupta also toured the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute to see the University’s groundbreaking research on substance use disorder funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), and spoke with patients recovering from addiction at the WVU Center for Hope and Healing.

On Friday, Dr. Gupta traveled to Charleston for events with community leaders, first responders, and state and local officials. Dr. Gupta met with the Executive Board members of the West Virginia Association of Addiction and Prevention Professionals and other leaders to discuss how state and federal partners can best work together to provide the services and supports West Virginians need. Dr. Gupta then joined Mayor Amy Goodwin for a walking tour with the Charleston Quick Response Team, a program he helped create during his time as the chief health officer for the state. Dr. Gupta applauded the mayor’s efforts to champion and expand this innovative program to meet people where they are and provide life-saving first response care. Dr. Gupta also held a roundtable discussion with officials at the West Virginia State Capitol to discuss high-impact, evidence-based policies to address the overdose epidemic.

Dr. Gupta wrapped up his trip in West Virginia in Lewisburg, with events at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Gupta was joined by students, faculty, and community leaders for an open discussion regarding addiction, trauma, and mental health.

In support of the National Drug Control Strategy, President Biden has called for a historic investment of $46.1 billion for National Drug Control Program agencies. The President’s FY24 budget request continues the Biden Administration’s trend of calling for dramatic investments to address the overdose epidemic driven by fentanyl, and represents a $5.0 billion increase from the FY22 request and a $2.3 billion increase over the FY23 enacted level. The FY24 proposed budget also includes an increase in funding for investigation and prosecution efforts to reduce the supply of illicit drugs like fentanyl and address drug trafficking. It also includes an increase in funding to support the expansion of prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services.

Read about President Biden’s FY2024 National Drug Control Budget request HERE.

Read the Biden-Harris Administration’s inaugural National Drug Control Strategy HERE.

Read the fact sheet on the Strategy HERE.

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