With the skyrocketing number of heroin users in the Northeast, the Obama administration has announced a new program to fight the addiction.
Obama’s drug czar Michael Botticelli called the program an unprecedented partnership among officials in five areas including New York/New Jersey; New England; Philadelphia/Camden; Washington/Baltimore and Appalachia, the New York Daily News reported Monday.
The White House announced that the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy will spend $2.5 million on the program, which pairs a public health coordinator along with a public safety coordinator for the five regions.
“The new Heroin Response Strategy demonstrates a strong commitment to address the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic as both a public health and a public safety issue,” Botticelli said in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control reported in July that the number of heroin users has increased by nearly 300,000 in the last decade, mostly among whites driven to the cheaper drug after becoming addicted to opioid painkillers.
Addiction is a problem that affects both liberals and conservatives, who have both endorsed the new effort.
In hardest-hit Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised the new program. “This is a positive development for Kentucky’s efforts to fight the use of heroin that is hitting the Commonwealth particularly hard,” he said in a statement.
In addition to the funds spent on the partnership, an additional $1.3 million is slated to help stop the flow of heroin from across the border with Mexico.
“This administration will continue to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use, pursue ‘smart on crime’ approaches to drug enforcement, increase access to treatment, work to reduce overdose deaths, and support the millions of Americans in recovery,” Botticelli said.