HHS unveils new overdose prevention strategy

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra announced Oct. 27 a new overdose prevention strategy that is designed to boost access to care for those with substance use disorders and their families. 

The new strategy focuses on four targets: primary prevention, harm reduction, evidence-based treatment and recovery support. 

"We're changing the way we address overdoses. Our new strategy focuses on people — putting the very individuals who have struggled with addiction in positions of power," Mr. Becerra said in a news release. 

HHS said the new prevention strategy will build on prior efforts from the administration to remove barriers to prescribing medication for opioid use disorder and providing new funding for support services. 

HHS released new guidelines in April that allow most healthcare providers to prescribe buprenorphine, a drug that treats opioid addiction. Before the updated guidelines, physicians seeking to prescribe buprenorphine outside of opioid treatment programs were required to complete an eight-hour course, often waiting 60 to 90 days to receive their waiver once the course was completed.

"For too many years, we have treated addiction as a moral failure — an approach that has left people without sufficient support, led to tragically high numbers of overdoses, and hurt families, friendships and entire communities," U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, said in the news release. "The new overdose prevention strategy is a powerful step toward addressing the overdose crisis and investing in a system that approaches addiction not as a character flaw, but as a chronic condition that must be met with skill, compassion and urgency."

Read HHS' full news release here

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