FIRST ON FOX: The White House on Thursday is announcing over $12 million in funding for programs to prevent substance abuse by young people across the U.S. as the Biden administration looks to tackle what it describes as an “overdose epidemic.”
The $12.4 million in grants will fund 99 programs that are working to prevent youth substance abuse — including a range of substances from opiods to marijuana, tobacco and alcohol.
It was announced at the Putnam Wellness Coalition in West Virginia by Dr. Rahul Gupta, the director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Policy.
“Adolescence is a critical period to prevent the initiation of substance use when the developing brain is particularly vulnerable,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director of ONDCP. “Research shows that youth substance use decreased significantly in communities served by a DFC-funded community coalition. This funding for communities reinforces our commitment to preventing youth substance use as part of President Biden’s Unity Agenda to beat the overdose epidemic. By investing in evidence-based prevention strategies like this, we can continue to instead help our youth reach their full potential.”
The grants are being deployed in line with the National Drug Control Strategy announced by President Biden last year, which uses a whole-of-government approach to expand access to prevention and recovery resources, while also cracking down on drug supplies.
Specifically, when it comes to youth substance abuse, the grants are aimed at addressing factors that can lead to it — including mental health and academic issues, as well as poverty.
The grants will also raise awareness about the dangers of illicit fentanyl, which has become a major national crisis in recent years. They are funded by the Drug-Free Communities Support Program, created in 1997 to prevent youth substance abuse.
So far in fiscal year 2022, a total of 745 community programs have received over $93 million in grant funding.
The effort comes as part of the White House’s wide-reaching efforts to tackle the opioid crisis — with drugs like fentanyl contributing to tens of thousands of American deaths each year.
Of the more than 108,000 overdose deaths last year, more than 80,000 were linked with fentanyl, officials say. The Drug Enforcement Administration has previously warned that the drug, which is created in Mexico using Chinese precursors and smuggled across the southern border, is killing Americans at an “unprecedented rate.”
In July there was 2,100lbs of the drug seized at the border by officials , up 202% from the 640 lbs seized in June.
The synthetic opioid is typically used for treating severe pain and is 50-100 times more potent than morphine. It is frequently cut with other drugs, meaning that users may often be unaware that they are ingesting the potent substance.
The White House has focused both on treatment of those affected, while also investing in agencies to stop smuggling and interdict smugglers. It has provided $293 million to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to stop smuggling at the border, and has also successfully pushed the United Nations to ban precursor chemicals.