Drug overdose deaths rose 27% in the United States in the 12-month period ending in August 2020, according to new government data. The increase was largely driven by illicitly manufactured fentanyl and synthetic opioids. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) said 88,000 people died of overdoses during that period, NPR reports.
Last week, the White House announced a seven-part plan addressing the overdose and addiction epidemic. “Our first priority is expanding access to quality treatment and recovery support services,” Regina LaBelle, the acting ONDCP director, said in a press briefing. She said the government’s addiction policy will emphasize health care and treatment instead of law enforcement and substance-related arrests.
The plan notes that President Biden has said that people should not be incarcerated for substance use but should be offered treatment instead.