The 2016 budget proposal released by President Obama this week includes a request for over $12 billion in federal funds for substance use disorder treatment and prevention. Of those funds, $11 billion is requested for treatment, which is nearly 7 percent more than 2015’s allocation, and $1.4 billion is requested for prevention activities, almost a 6 percent increase over last year. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the 2016 budget request is the federal government’s largest commitment to treating and preventing substance abuse to date.
Phoenix House’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, was pleased that some of the funding would be allocated to addressing the opioid addiction epidemic. However, he noted that only a small portion of the funds will be dedicated to expanding access to opioid addiction treatment, and urged that improving access to treatment will be instrumental in preventing future overdoses. “Until treatment, especially in communities hit hardest by the epidemic, is easier to access than pills or heroin, overdose deaths will remain at historically high levels and heroin will continue flooding in,” he told Forbes.
According to the Washington Post, the budget would also permit recreational marijuana use in Washington, D.C., by removing the congressional restriction put in place after voters approved the measure last fall. Many residents pointed to D.C.’s marijuana arrest rate among minorities as a contributing factor in their decision to approve the measure.