The White House on Thursday announced $12.4 million in grants for community programs aimed at tackling substance abuse and drug overdoses in young people.
The grants, which will be awarded to 99 community-based programs across all 50 states, are part of the White House strategy “to beat the overdose epidemic” under the Drug-Free Communities Support Program.
“Research shows that youth substance use decreased significantly in communities served by a DFC-funded community coalition,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “By investing in evidence-based prevention strategies like this, we can continue to instead help our youth reach their full potential.”
The funding is in line with the White House’s National Drug Control Strategy aimed at addressing addiction and overdoses announced earlier this year amid a raging drug crisis fueled in part by a spike in the highly potent synthetic opioid fentanyl coming into the U.S.
Customs and Border Protection reported seizing 2,071 pounds of fentanyl coming in from Mexico in July. That was 60% more than the previous record, set in April, and more than triple the 640 pounds nabbed in June.
It almost equals the amount of fentanyl seized in all of 2019.
The increased number of drug seizures is indicative of more drugs entering the country. Critics blame President Biden’s lax border policies for the increased flow of drugs and illegal immigrants into the U.S. through the southern border.
Mr. Biden also has come under fire from opponents who say his focus on progressive “harm reduction” measures does little to combat the epidemic and threatens to “weaken our fight against drug use.”
In February, after it was revealed Department of Justice was reportedly considering supporting the use of supervised injection sites, which it had previously opposed, a group of Senators led by the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary, Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, expressed “grave concern about how your administration is handling the drug epidemic” in a letter to Mr. Biden.
The lawmakers wrote that Mr. Biden’s approach has resulted in “radicalized, illegal, and dangerous acts,” while failing to address the spike in drug addiction and overdose.
“Too many Americans have died at the hands of illicit drugs,” the lawmakers wrote. “No branch of the federal government, and no amount of power vested in the President, should make access to illicit drugs easier.”
The administration said that the grants would raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol and community organizations receiving awards would educate communities about illicit fentanyl and counterfeit pills, which have been linked to increases in youth overdoses.
Mr. Biden has authorized more than $93 million in grant funding to a total of 745 community groups through the Drug-Free Communities Support Program in this fiscal year.
Mr. Biden’s counter-drug strategy calls for measures to “obstruct and disrupt financial activities of transnational criminal organizations that manufacture illicit drugs and traffic them into the United States.”
The strategy also calls for addressing untreated addiction for users at risk of overdose by providing greater access to “harm reduction interventions including naloxone, drug test strips, and syringe services programs,” among other steps.
• Joseph Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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