Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorder Must Both be Addressed to Reduce Fentanyl Deaths, Top Drug Policy Official Says

    Mental illness and substance use disorder must both be addressed in order to reduce fentanyl deaths, White House office of National Drug Control Policy Director Rahul Gupta said at a congressional hearing.

    More than nine million adults in the United States have both mental illness and a substance use disorder, according to a 2021 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    Gupta told the House Oversight Committee that “mental illness and drug addiction go hand in glove,” STAT reports. He noted young people may take pills they think are the anti-anxiety medication Xanax or the stimulant Adderall but are laced with fentanyl.

    Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the committee’s ranking member, called on Congress to address the prevalence of untreated mental illness fueling the illicit drug market. “We’re talking about people who lack the resources they need to treat mental illness, who face stigma in obtaining treatment, and who may self-medicate with alcohol, fentanyl,” he said.

    Rahul Gupta, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, testified that “mental illness and drug addiction go hand in glove,” emphasizing that “it’s really important that we address both mental health, social isolation as well as addiction.”


    August 2023