A $41 Billion Investment in Combatting Addiction Must Include Prevention
Verde Environmental Technologies, Inc., Chairman & CEO Jason Sundby Responds to President Biden’s 2022 State of the Union
President Biden delivered his first State of the Union speech this week as our nation faces a host of crises – not the least of which is the escalating opioid addiction epidemic.
I appreciated the White House acknowledging the unfortunate reality that “most Americans who need treatment for an opioid use disorder do not get it.” On behalf of Verde Environmental Technologies, Inc., maker of the Deterra® Drug Deactivation and Disposal System, I applaud the Biden Administration for laying out a plan to address substance misuse and the overdose epidemic. We welcome the President’s proposed historic investments in increased funding for addiction treatment, stopping illicit drug trafficking, removing barriers to treatment, and expanding access to naloxone, fentanyl test strips, and syringe service programs.
As laudable as these activities are, however, we must not miss the opportunity to invest in prevention and stopping opioid misuse before it begins.
The 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 9.3 million people over the age of 12 reported they had misused prescription pain relievers in the last year. We know that addiction to prescription painkillers often starts by finding unused prescription drugs left in the home medicine cabinet, and studies show that up to 70% of opioids prescribed for post-surgical use go unused, creating a potentially lethal combination.
As a company working in the trenches with law enforcement, federal and state government officials, healthcare providers, anti-drug programs, and concerned families to remove excess pills from circulation with environmentally safe, effective, at-home drug deactivation and disposal, we know the power of prevention. We cannot turn the tide on the opioid epidemic without it.
We call on federal, state, and local leaders, healthcare providers, first responders, and others on the front lines of this epidemic to prioritize and implement the following strategies:
- Mandatory patient education whenever opioids are prescribed. Patients who are prescribed powerful opioids should be educated on proper use and the dangers of misuse, including the potential for addiction, overdose, or death.
- Co-dispensing at-home drug deactivation and disposal options with every opioid prescription. In 2020, nearly 50% of people misusing prescription pain relievers received their medication from a friend or relative in some way. Dispensing a deactivation and disposal tool encourages patients to get rid of excess pills rather than hold on to them.
- Make funds more readily available for at-home drug deactivation and disposal options and other evidence-based prevention tools. Communities should have flexibility to fight addiction in the way that best suits their population. Purchasing and providing evidence-based prevention tools, including at-home drug deactivation and disposal options, must be eligible activities for federal, state, and local funds intended to fight the opioid epidemic.
Jason Sundby is Chairman and CEO of Verde Environmental Technologies, Inc., maker of the Deterra® Drug Deactivation and Disposal System. For more information, visit: https://DeterraSystem.com