U.S. Education Secretary and National Drug Control Director also calling on schools to help prevent youth drug use before it begins and ensure students have the help they need in the event of drug poisoning
Washington, D.C. – Today, during National Youth Substance Use Prevention Month, the White House will host a bipartisan summit with youth leaders, community-based coalitions, and federal partners on efforts to prevent youth substance use and ensure local communities have the lifesaving resources and tools they need to keep young people healthy, safe and thriving. White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Dr. Rahul Gupta and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona are also calling on schools and educators to help prevent youth drug use before it begins and ensure students have the help they need in the event of drug poisoning.
At today’s Youth Substance Use Prevention Summit, Dr. Gupta, Secretary Cardona, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Director for Program and Science Dr. Debra Houry will join youth leaders and community-based coalitions from across the country to discuss the critical importance of raising awareness on the dangers of illicit drugs like fentanyl, increasing education on issues related to substance use, decreasing stigma around mental health and substance use disorder, and strengthening the safety of our communities.
“President Biden has been clear — we must come together to beat the overdose epidemic and save lives,” said Dr. Gupta. “As part of our work to deliver on the President’s Unity Agenda, today we are recognizing youth community prevention leaders who have built coalitions to stop drug use before it begins in their towns and neighborhoods. Their efforts are an example to follow — when we support local prevention efforts with historic resources as the Biden-Harris Administration has done and build coalitions across ideological divides, we can chart a path out of this crisis.”
“Schools are integral to the success of local Drug Free Communities, along with parents, civic organizations, law enforcement, media, and other coalition partners,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “The Biden-Harris Administration understands the vital role these coalitions play in our communities, especially right now when record numbers of young people report struggles with mental health and illicit drugs like fentanyl pose life-threatening risks. The U.S. Department of Education is committed to helping schools build positive school cultures, embrace evidence-based drug prevention strategies, and equip staff with the tools and the training to intervene in the event of drug-induced health emergencies. Prioritizing student health, safety, and mental wellbeing is essential if we are going to Raise the Bar for academic achievement and provide all children and youth with thriving school communities.”
“I’m proud to mark 25 years since the start of the Drug Free Communities (DFC) program,” said U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). “Thanks to the partnership of local advocates, DFC has helped prevent countless individuals from falling into drug use and restored the lives of many more who have suffered from drug addiction. Yet as we recognize the progress made, we must also acknowledge the crisis we are currently in. Over the past year, 112,000 Americans have died from drug overdose, many as a result of deadly fentanyl. I’m more motivated than ever to continue my work in Congress to fight the tide of drugs poisoning our country and protect our communities.”
“We at CDC are committed to building drug-free communities and working in communities with the coalitions to keep our country’s children safe from dangerous substances,” said CDC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deb Houry. “While we have made progress as a nation, there is more work to be done to reduce overdoses and prevent youth substance use.”
The White House will issue Blue Ribbon Awards to 15 Drug-Free Community Coalitions across the country for their outstanding work to prevent youth substance use and ensure young people can lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Under President Biden’s leadership, there are more community coalitions funded through the Drug-Free Communities program than ever before, with more than 750 coalitions working to implement evidence-based prevention efforts locally in all fifty states. Thanks to strong bipartisan support and funding, the Biden-Harris Administration invested nearly $94 million in the program last year. Since the DFC program’s inception, the past 30-day prevalence of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and prescription drug misuse has declined significantly among middle school and high school aged youth.
Even though rates of drug use among youth have plateaued in recent years, overdose deaths among adolescents doubled from 2019 to 2020 and continue to rise due to the increasingly potent and lethal illicit drug supply. In a new letter sent to schools and educators across the country today, Secretary Cardona and Dr. Gupta are calling on every school to implement evidence-based youth substance use prevention measures and have opioid reversal agents like naloxone on site and ensure their students and faculty are prepared to use it in the event of drug poisoning to save lives.
The Biden-Harris Administration has made supporting our nation’s youth a top priority. Over the past two years, the Administration has made historic investments to strengthen local youth prevention efforts and public awareness campaigns on the dangers of illicit drugs and the life-saving effects of naloxone. The Biden-Harris Administration has invested historic amounts of funding in the State Opioid Response (SOR) grant program for states and Tribes to make overdose reversal medications available to their residents at no cost. Using federal SOR grant dollars, states have purchased nearly 9 million naloxone kits and helped reverse more than 500,000 overdoses. Just last week, the White House requested an additional $1.55 billion to expand essential life-saving services provided through the SOR grant program. In addition to dramatically strengthening public health approaches to address the overdose epidemic, under President Biden’s leadership, the Administration has also made unprecedented investments to strengthen public safety, including funding law enforcement personnel, resources, and efforts to crack down on drug trafficking and make our communities safer.
Read President Biden’s Proclamation on National Youth Substance Use Prevention Month HERE.
Read Secretary Cardona and Dr. Gupta’s letter to schools HERE.