A drug overdose rescue kit is pictured in Buffalo, NY The Biden administration plans to increase access to clean needles, fentanyl test strips and naloxone to combat drug overdose deaths dope.

Carolyn Thompson/AP


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Carolyn Thompson/AP


A drug overdose rescue kit is pictured in Buffalo, NY The Biden administration plans to increase access to clean needles, fentanyl test strips and naloxone to combat drug overdose deaths dope.

Carolyn Thompson/AP

In its first detailed plan to slow the rise in drug overdose deaths, the Biden administration emphasizes harm reduction.

This means increasing access to clean needles, fentanyl test strips and naloxone. Clean needles help reduce the spread of disease. Fentanyl test strips allow addicts to check if they are about to consume this powerful opioid that can stop breathing in seconds. Naloxone is a drug that can quickly reverse an opioid overdose.

“The single most important step we can take to save lives, right now, is to get naloxone into the hands of everyone who needs it without fear or judgment,” said Bureau Director Dr Rahul Gupta. of the White House’s National Drug Control Policy. .

Harm reduction is one of four policies the Biden administration says must be implemented immediately in order to address the record number of overdose deaths. About 106,854 people died from overdoses in a year ending November 2021, According to the CDC.

Additionally, the administration aims to double treatment admissions by 2025 and ensure patients have access to medications for opioid use disorder while on treatment.

“The National Drug Control Strategy calls for major expansions in treatment access and harm reduction that will save many lives,” said Dr. Josh Sharfstein, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Strategies backed by evidence and compassion have the best chance of reaching people and helping them regain control of their lives.”

The White House is also proposing better data collection to help predict who is most at risk of overdose and issue warnings about changes in drug supply. And he calls for renewed efforts to disrupt the drug trade, including sanctions against individual traffickers.

The plan “is a call to action, to beat the overdose epidemic,” Gupta said. “It’s not a red state problem or a blue state problem. It’s America’s problem.”

Gupta says a recent bipartisan congressional report that recommended greater adoption of harm reduction services supports his view. But access to harm reduction and treatment varies from state to state. Massachusetts, for example, is expanding the definition of harm reduction beyond Biden’s plan — handing out crack pipes to limit the transmission of infections and considering legislation that would allow supervised drug use to prevent overdoses. In contrast, needle exchange programs are closing in some cities and towns as governments impose new restrictions.

“Accessing these services largely depends on where you live,” said Robin Pollini, an associate professor at West Virginia University who studies injection drug use and harm reduction.

Pollini says she’s happy to see the Biden administration include harm reduction in its plan to reduce overdose deaths, but that the funding is nowhere near enough. Pollini and other harm reduction experts say the federal government must lift the ban on federal funding for syringes if it wants to expand these programs.