White House Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli was in Salt Lake City Thursday to talk with community leaders about efforts to address opioid addiction.
Botticelli has been touring the country talking to communities about the opioid epidemic. Utah ranks 4th highest in the nation for drug overdose deaths, but Botticelli says the state is not unique in its struggle with prescription pain medications and heroin. He says it’s going to take a coordinated local and national effort to address it.
“I think what we saw today is various sectors of the community – the prevention, the treatment community, the law enforcement community coming together to say we each have some responsibility to make headway on this problem,” Botticelli says.
One of the things he heard from the group in Salt Lake City is a need for expanded treatment options. He says across the country, he’s seen a gap between people who need treatment and people who get it.
“One of the reasons that we have that treatment gap in the United States is people who do not have insurance,” he says. “Expanding Medicaid and providing insurance, particularly a substance use disorder benefit is one of the singularly most important things that we can do.”
Botticelli also says the White House is setting aside 1.1 billion dollars in the president’s proposed budget for state grants to expand treatment efforts.