January 30, 2020 – Washington, DC – The Center for U.S. Policy’s Christopher Piemonte, Policy Manager, issued the following statement today in response to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on U.S. drug overdose deaths:

“Every drug overdose death is a preventable tragedy. Encouraging new CDC data shows the total number of overdose deaths, as well as those associated with prescription and illicit opioids, declined in 2018.[1] This decline correlates with an increase in federal funding for opioid-related demand reduction, i.e., prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery support, initiatives in 2017 and 2018. After appropriating a maximum of 42.82 percent of drug control funding for demand reduction programs each year from 2003 through 2016, Congress increased demand reduction programs’ proportion of funding to 49.14 percent across 2017 and 2018.[2] Over the same two years, Congress kept dollar amounts for supply reduction programs roughly the same as amounts from prior years.[3]

“This data is not sufficient to provide evidence of causation, but it supports a claim that additional funding for opioid-focused demand reduction programs in 2017 and 2018 contributed to an immediate and significant decline in the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths. Additional support for this theory can be seen in the continued increase in the rate of overdose deaths related to cocaine and other stimulants.

“The new CDC data supports CUSP’s position that Congress should direct new drug control funding to demand reduction programs, while keeping supply reduction funding at its current level.”

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[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data brief 356. Drug overdose deaths in the United States, 1999-2018. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db356_tables-508.pdf#page=3. Accessed February 10, 2020.

[2] Office of National Drug Control Policy. National drug control strategy FY 2021 funding highlights. https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/FY-2021-National-Drug-Control-Budget-Highlights.pdf.  Published February 2020. Accessed February 10, 2020; Office of National Drug Control Policy. FY 2015 budget performance and performance summary. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/ondcp/about-content/fy2015_summary.pdf. Published July 2014. Accessed February 10, 2020.

[3] Office of National Drug Control Policy. National drug control strategy FY 2021 funding highlights. https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/FY-2021-National-Drug-Control-Budget-Highlights.pdf.  Published February 2020. Accessed February 10, 2020; Office of National Drug Control Policy. FY 2015 budget performance and performance summary. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/ondcp/about-content/fy2015_summary.pdf. Published July 2014. Accessed February 10, 2020.