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February 8, 2023

Praise for President Biden’s Focus on Solving the Overdose Crisis in State of the Union Address

By Libby Jones

Last night, President Biden delivered his second State of the Union address. The speech came as the country continues to experience more than 100,000 deaths from overdose for the second straight year. In his speech, President Biden praised the passage of the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act and highlighted the need to address the overdose crisis. Earlier yesterday, the White House announced that they will reduce future overdose deaths by focusing on the distribution of naloxone, the medication that reverses overdoses, and increasing availability of medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD), like buprenorphine and methadone, in jails and prisons.

The Overdose Prevention Initiative recently announced priorities for the program in 2023. One area of focus will be increasing access to MOUD in jails and prisons. Nearly two-thirds of the incarcerated population have a substance use disorder, and we applaud the Biden Administration for focusing their overdose prevention efforts on these settings through overdue reforms. The Overdose Prevention Initiative is eager to continue the good work in supporting the Administration’s inclusion of treatment access and harm reduction in its approach to drug policy.

“We’re grateful to President Biden for highlighting the MAT Act in his State of the Union address, and to the Biden Administration for championing access to effective treatments for opioid use disorder and for prioritizing harm reduction in his State of the Union address. These are the bold steps needed to tackle the overdose crisis,” says Libby Jones, Program Director of the Overdose Prevention Initiative. “This is where the work begins. The Biden Administration must focus on naloxone distribution and delivering MOUD to people who are incarcerated. These are critical actions that will save lives and prevent overdose deaths.”

The Overdose Prevention Initiative also applauds the commitment to solving the overdose crisis from the White House and Congress, as evidenced by the guests brought by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Senator Hassan.

In recent months, the Biden Administration and Congress have taken great steps to improve access to effective treatment for opioid use disorder. The bipartisan MAT Act, which removed the X-waiver requirement to prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder, passed with the Omnibus Appropriations bill at the end of 2022. The omnibus also included provisions that increased the availability of methadone treatment.

Comprehensive support for addiction is within reach. The Overdose Prevention Initiative is committed to working with the Biden Administration and champions in the 118th Congress to advance policies that improve access to treatment, save lives, and prevent future overdose deaths.