Bloomberg Law
Dec. 29, 2022, 7:36 PM

Addiction Treatment for Inmates Draws Biden Drug Focus for 2023

Ian Lopez
Ian Lopez
Senior Reporter

Incarcerated Americans struggling with addiction are slated to be the focus of 2023 Biden administration plans to quell soaring national drug use, a top White House official told Bloomberg Law.

The White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is working with the administration’s Drug Enforcement Administration and the Health and Human Services Department on a plan to provide addiction treatment services to incarcerated individuals across federal correctional systems, Rahul Gupta, the office’s director, said in an interview Thursday.

The White House office is likewise working with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to provide states with guidance on offering services through state correctional facilities, Gupta said.

Addressing substance use among the incarcerated is an “important piece” of expanding treatment, Gupta said. In 2020, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, reported that among the prison population, 85% either had an active substance use disorder or had been incarcerated due to drug-related crimes.

Treating these individuals will have the “largest impacts” on saving lives and other efforts while making communities “healthier and safer,” Gupta said.

“We should expect in the coming months for the federal government to continue to lead on this issue,” Gupta said.

Follows Action on Methadone

Gupta’s remarks follow an active several weeks for the administration in the addiction treatment realm.

The HHS recently proposed new rules for take-home use of the opioid addiction treatment methadone and easier sharing of medical treatment records for those being treated for substance use disorder.

Meanwhile, Congress in its spending package signed off on dropping nearly $5 billion into fighting opioid use. The package also eliminated a requirement for health practitioners to apply for a DEA waiver to dole out the opioid addiction treatment drug buprenorphine.

Gupta also pointed to the need for the administration to work with medical schools to educate students on use of buprenorphine, as well as with pharmacies and distributors to ensure the product is available.

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