A Proclamation on Overdose Awareness Week, 2022

The overdose epidemic has wreaked havoc on our nation, claiming the lives of far too many Americans and devastating families and communities across the country. During Overdose Awareness Week, we renew our commitment to take bold action to prevent overdoses and related deaths. We continue our efforts to improve prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery support services for people with substance use disorders and addictions. We affirm our duty to prevent the flow of illicit drugs from reaching our communities.

As the overdose epidemic has evolved, synthetic opioids — particularly illegally manufactured fentanyl — are now responsible for the majority of overdose deaths. In 2021, more than 100,000 people died from overdoses, an increase of about 15% from the previous year. Each loss is a painful reminder that, now more than ever, we must deal with our nation’s overdose epidemic.

As I said in my State of the Union address, defeating the opioid overdose epidemic is an urgent priority for the nation and a key pillar of my administration’s unity agenda. That’s why the US bailout provided nearly $4 billion to bolster our nation’s mental health and addictions care infrastructure. The Department of Justice seized record amounts of illicit drugs and provided $94 million for adult rehabilitation and recidivism reduction programs, including nearly $30 million for treatment of drug use disorders of substances. The Department of Health and Human Services released a comprehensive overdose prevention strategy, improving access to services for affected individuals and families. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy released its first National drug control strategy, focusing on untreated drug addiction and drug trafficking, two key drivers of the overdose epidemic. We are making significant progress in ending the stigma around addiction so people can access the help they need.

We are also changing the way we help people with substance use disorders in a variety of ways. We are working to expand access to high-impact harm reduction interventions like the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone, and to remove barriers to effective treatment. We address the underlying factors that lead to substance use disorders and addiction. We target drug trafficking organizations by disrupting the operating capital they need to sustain their criminal enterprises.

These are important steps, but we know there is still work to be done. That’s why my budget provides a historic investment of $42.5 billion for national drug program agencies to support the National drug control strategy, including $24.3 billion to support the expansion of evidence-based prevention, treatment, harm reduction and recovery support services. This request also includes increased funding to reduce the supply of illicit drugs and improve the health and safety of our communities.

Overdose Awareness Week is a time to remember those who have tragically lost their lives to overdose and the pain of the families left behind. But it is also an opportunity to recommit ourselves to working together to build safe, healthy and resilient communities. By adopting evidence-based approaches to reduce overdose risk and reduce barriers to treatment and support, we can save more American lives.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim the August 28 to September 3, 2022, as Overdose Awareness Week. I call on citizens, government agencies, civil society organizations, healthcare providers and research institutions to raise awareness about substance use disorders to fight stigma, promote treatment and celebrate recovery, and to strengthen our collective efforts to prevent overdose deaths. August 31 also marks Overdose Awareness Day, when we honor and remember those who have lost their lives to the drug overdose epidemic.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have affixed my signature this twenty-sixth of August, in the year of grace two thousand and twenty-two, and of the independence of the United States of America on the two hundred and forty-seven.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

Comments are closed.