CHARLESTON — Last week, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Dr. Rahul Gupta traveled to West Virginia to meet with local, state and federal leaders, as well as public health officials and law enforcement officers on the frontlines of the overdose epidemic and announce over $12 million in funding for 99 new coalitions in West Virginia and across the country that adds to a total of $93 million for FY 23. During his trip, Dr. Gupta also discussed President Biden’s National Drug Control Strategy and key actions the Biden-Harris Administration has taken to remove barriers to substance use disorder care, prevent overdoses, and reduce the supply of illicit drugs like fentanyl.
“President Biden has called on the Nation to work together and beat the overdose epidemic by going after two key drivers of it: untreated addiction and drug trafficking,” said Dr. Gupta. “I was glad to visit West Virginia to hear from leaders on the frontlines of this public health crisis and announce new funding for three new community coalitions in the state that will work to prevent youth substance use as part of President Biden’s Unity Agenda. Together, we can prevent overdoses, get more people the help they need, reduce the flow of illicit drugs and save lives.”
Dr. Gupta attended a Q&A at University of Charleston with university president, Dr. Roth, on the overdose epidemic. Following that event, Dr. Gupta sat down with Governor Jim Justice to discuss the important work happening to address addiction and the overdose epidemic on a bipartisan basis, including youth substance use prevention efforts that help keep communities healthy and safe.
He also met with law enforcement officers at a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) roundtable with Appalachia HIDTA and attended a K-9 demonstration to discuss different techniques used by law enforcement to detect illicit drugs like fentanyl. On behalf of Kanawha County, Dr. Gupta also presented the inaugural Dr. Rahul Gupta Public Health Merit Award to the family of Paul Nusbaum, a former West Virginia state and county health official.
During the trip, Dr. Gupta also joined Appalachian Regional Commission Co-Chair Gayle Manchin and people in recovery to discuss ARC’s INSPIRE grants and the importance of recovery-ready workplaces. He spent Wednesday evening participating in volunteer clinic work at Health Right and met with individuals in recovery who receive support services.
On Thursday, Dr. Gupta joined Putnam Wellness Coalition, a Drug Free Communities coalition, to share the announcement of over $12 million in funding for 99 new coalitions in West Virginia and across the country. He also participated in a roundtable with Director of West Virginia’s Office of Drug Control Policy Dr. Matthew Christiansen and local faith, business, health and law enforcement leaders. Dr. Gupta rode along with a Quick Response Team (QRT) that assists individuals who have experienced an overdose with treatment, recovery and social service support and he met with the Provider Response Organization for Addiction Care and Treatment (PROACT) and Marshall Health to discuss how to integrate primary care for individuals with substance use disorder.
Throughout the visit, Dr. Gupta highlighted how the Biden-Harris Administration is working to beat the overdose epidemic through President Biden’s Unity Agenda. The Administration’s policies and investments in communities are already demonstrating significant improvements for the American people, as is shown by the recently released overdose death data from CDC that shows the rate of increase of predicted overdose deaths has slowed, but there is still more work to do.