2014 has been a year of significant developments for drug policy in our country as well as at the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). This year, President Obama nominated Michael Botticelli to Director of National Drug Control Policy. If confirmed, he will become the first person in recovery from a substance use disorder to ever hold the position. We made progress against the opioid epidemic as prescription drug abuse and overdose prevention efforts expanded across the country. A significant number of states passed overdose prevention laws and more police departments began to equip officers with naloxone, the life-saving overdose reversal drug. Supporting these efforts, the Department of Justice released a naloxone toolkit to help increase its use by law enforcement agencies and the Attorney General urged federal law enforcement agencies to identify, train and equip with naloxone personnel who may interact with victims of opioid overdose. For the first time since 1999, the number of deaths involving prescription drugs declined, and teens reported lower rates of drug, alcohol and cigarette use. We also hosted a historic event on recovery at the White House during National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month.
Here are highlights from 2014:
Attorney General Eric Holder speaks in support of the bipartisan Smarter Sentencing Act, which would give judges more discretion in determining appropriate sentences for people convicted of certain federal drug crimes, and provide a new mechanism for some individuals – who were sentenced under outdated laws and guidelines – to petition judges for sentencing reductions that are consistent with the Fair Sentencing Act.
Mexican authorities announce the capture of Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman Loera, the alleged head of a drug-running empire that spans continents. The criminal activity Guzman allegedly directed contributed to the death and destruction of millions of lives across the globe through drug addiction, violence, and corruption. The operation led by the Mexican government is a significant victory and milestone in U.S.-Mexican efforts to combat drug trafficking, violence and illicit activity along our shared border.
The UN officially endorses recovery. A resolution on the importance of recovery proposed by the United States at the 57th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was approved on March 21st in Vienna, Austria. This resolution marks the first time in the more than 50-year history of the global anti-drug regime that the concept of recovery was formally accepted and supported by United Nations Member States.
The 2014 Advocates for Action come to The White House to meet with Acting Director Botticelli and discuss their work and advocacy on drug policy. Meet them and hear their stories:
Acting Director Botticelli speaks at the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission in Washington, D.C. The 34 Member Nations from the Organization of American States gathered to discuss an array of public health and drug policy issues, including drug courts and other alternatives to incarceration and the growing challenge of local distribution of drugs within Latin America. Acting Director Botticelli discusses the disease of addiction, the expanding access to drug treatment under the Affordable Care Act, and Federal monitoring of state marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington.
In response to rising rates of heroin use and related overdose deaths, ONDCP hosts the Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Summit at The White House, where Acting Director Botticelli, Attorney General Holder and Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin rally around our shared goal of dramatically reducing the rate of heroin and prescription drug abuse across the country.
ONDCP releases our 2014 National Drug Control Strategy at a substance abuse treatment center in Roanoke, Virginia, where Acting Director Botticelli also tours the Hurt Park neighborhood, which was the site of a successful alternative policing program called Drug Market Intervention. The same day, Acting Director Botticelli meets with a community social services center called Total Action For Progress, which supports young people and others in recovery and connects them with employment.
President Obama announces his intent to nominate Michael Botticelli as Director of National Drug Control Policy. If confirmed, he will become the first person in recovery from a substance use disorder to hold this position.
The White House hosts Recovery Month event. NFL legend Cris Carter; Christina Huffington; veteran reporter and author Ruben Castaneda; Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, Mayor Tim Wilson; and television news anchor Laurie Dhue speak to a packed auditorium at The White House about their recovery experiences, and where the recovery movement is going in the future.
ONDCP announces the addition of 26 counties and cities in 11 states to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, which facilitates collaboration between state, local and federal law enforcement. ONDCP also announces $84 million in Drug-Free Communities Support Program grants for 680 community coalitions across the country.
ONDCP and the Drug Enforcement Administration educate community agencies about implementing drug disposal programs. In 2014, the Administration issued new regulations to create convenient, legal avenues for safe, environmentally-friendly disposal of unneeded prescription drugs. This is one of the four pillars outlined in the 2011 Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan, and is critical to curbing the national opioid epidemic. Thanks to the new regulations, individuals will have more convenient and environmentally responsible means to dispose of unused prescription drugs.
President Obama declares December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. Throughout this month, ONDCP is working with the Department of Transportation and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to raise awareness of drugged driving and encourage communities to engage in prevention activities.