Late last week the White House circulated an announcement highlighting Administration’s efforts to address the opioid epidemic in 2015. It is a topic that is certain to get greater focus in the February budget and possibly in the State of the Union address. In their highlights they listed the FY 2016 budget requests, some of which received increases.

It is also a key focus for CWLA in much of its work taking place this year including at the annual conference in California later this year: What Works for Families Affected by Substance Use , August 1 through 3 in Orange County, California. Over the past two years there appears to be a strong trend line across the country of increased foster care placements with much of the increased numbers related to increased prescription drug use and a transfer from prescription drugs to heroin.

The White House listed several different actions including an October announcement of federal, state, local and private sector commitments aimed at addressing the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic.

In September the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) gathered leaders in graduate medical training, federal agencies, supporting institutions and representatives of current and emerging addiction medicine fellowship training programs. The meeting had as its focus acceleration in the medical field to address substance use prevention and the treatment.  The White House highlighted the efforts of the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM) to begin a process to bring addiction medicine into the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) as a subspecialty.

In that same month the White House brought together a number of young people recovering from addiction. The young leaders in recovery sat down at the White House to talk about their journeys – and to encourage others to share their stories of recovery.  The event was broadcast live on, and more than 100 groups signed up to host watch parties and discussions across the country. Social media activities around the event reached more than 20 million people.

In August, the Drug-Free Communities Support Program’s 2014 National Evaluation Report was released indicating that across the 618 Drug-Free Communities (DFC) funded by ONDCP there were promising results for middle school and high school youth substance use and perception, including:

  • A significant decrease in past 30 day use for alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and illicit prescription drug use among middle school and high school youth;
  • An increase in the percentage of survey respondents who reported that regular use of tobacco, alcohol, or prescription drugs has moderate or great risk;
  • An increase in the perception of peer disapproval among middle school students in each of the four substance areas, and for high school students in each substance except marijuana.
  • An increase in perception of parent disapproval for each of the substance areas, with the exception of marijuana among high school youth.

Perhaps most significant In February Senate unanimously confirmed Michael Botticelli as Director of National Drug Control Policy. He is the first Director in long term recovery from a substance use disorder, recently celebrating 27 years in recovery.