They Want HOW Much Money?!
With drug abuse exceeding epidemic proportions in the United States, it’s time for something drastic to be done. Think about it – opioid overdose fatalities are now the leading cause of injury related death. We’re no longer in a painkiller or heroin epidemic, we’re in an all-out guerrilla war.
It’s clear that the government hasn’t had much success with prohibitory measures. It looks like they’ve taken this idea to heart and, in their proposed budget at least, are ready to make some shifts in federal spending.
Fourteen US senators recently petitioned Congress for a large increase in the 2016 drug abuse prevention budget. Spending large amounts of federal dollars to fight substance abuse and addiction is nothing new. What is new are the programs these senators would like to see backed.
What programs and agencies will benefit the most from this proposed budget? Find out below!
And the Winning Agencies are…
The three agencies set to directly receive money from the proposed 2016 budget are the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the National Institute of Health (NIH). There are a number of secondary agencies and programs which will no doubt benefit, but there three are the big winners.
So, how much money does Congress want for each agency? Well, let’s look at the CDC first. According to the senators,
“We request that you fund drug overdose prevention and monitoring activities at the CDC at a total of $68.0 million, which is equal to the President’s budget request and an increase of $53.6 million over FY 2015” (Senator Tammy Baldwin’s Site).
$68 million is a lot of money! As Senator Baldwin mentioned, however, it’s the same as Obama’s 2016 proposed drug abuse prevention budget. It looks like their budgets are aligned on CDC funding.
Of the proposed $68 million, $48 would be used to “strengthen and expand the Prescription Drug Overdose (PDO) Prevention for States program to all 50 states.” The money would be broken down into individual state bundles and used for improving prescription drug monitoring programs.
Portions of the proposed $68 million will also be put towards direct prescription drug overdose interventions, data gathering, data monitoring, mortality surveillance, and “developing safe opioid prescribing guidelines…”
It’s important to note that the CDC wouldn’t be receiving this money in a vacuum. Rather, they’d be working alongside other agencies that are also set to receive significant sums of money. That brings us to SAMHSA.
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Senator Baldwin and her fellow senators believe the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration should receive $25.1 million. As noted above, although this may be a large sum of money and a $13 million increase from our current fiscal year, it’s equal to President Obama’s proposed 2016 budget.
So what programs in SAMHSA would this cool 25 million dollars be funding? Well, first and foremost is the Medication-Assisted Treatment for Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction.
This program, according to Baldwin, will “expand treatment for opioid use disorders, with a focus on heroin and prescription opioids through a combination of medication and behavioral therapies services.” In layman’s terms, they’re talking about Suboxone, Subutex, and the like.
Another $12 million of SAMHSA’s proposed federal dollars would go towards allowing individual states to purchase, distribute, and implement naloxone programs.
The Final Verdict
But wait, we haven’t talked about the NIH yet! There’s good reason for that. The senator’s 2016 budget is rather vague about the NIH’s cut of drug abuse prevention funds.
Although Senator Baldwin and others would like the National Institute of Health to receive $54.7 million dollars, there aren’t detailed plans for how this money will be allocated. The bulk of it will be to conduct clinical research in collaboration with the VA, but details beyond that remain sketchy.
So, is the 2016 proposed budget good or bad? Unfortunately drug abuse prevention is too complicated an issue to simply label this budget as good or bad. I believe, though, that the majority of this money will be money well spent. That is to say, I believe the agencies and projects it’s funding are well worth the investment.
Or course, the ultimate acid test is to see how this budget works in action. After all, with overdose deaths and general substance abuse at an all-time high, it’ll be easy to see if this money, allocated to these agencies and programs, produces noticeable results. Let’s hope it does.