US Unveils $5m Drive To Combat Rise in Heroin Abuse

The US government is launching a $5m (£3.2m) initiative to combat the use and trafficking of heroin, with a focus on prioritising treatment rather than punishment.

US Unveils $5m Drive To Combat Rise

Half of the money is to be designated for police to work side-by-side with public health officials.

Fifteen states on the east coast will be targeted.

The move comes in response to a sharp increase in the number of heroin cases in the US over the last decade.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported last month a rise in the number of users by 63% between 2002 and 2013.

Experts say the spike is due to people using opioid painkillers who are increasingly turning to heroin as a cheaper high.

The plan to combat the growing drugs problem, unveiled by the White House on Monday, seeks to form new partnerships between public health and law enforcement agencies.

From New England to Washington, members from each department will be paired as part of efforts to shift the focus away from punitive action to treatment for addiction.

A statement from the White House National Drug Control Policy said the strategy was aimed at facilitating collaboration between the two departments and “sharing best practices, innovative pilots, and identifying new opportunities to leverage resources”.

It “demonstrates a strong commitment to address the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic as both a public health and a public safety issue,” director Michael Botticelli added.

Many police officers across the country have started to carry life-saving medication to prevent heroin overdoses.

Heroin addiction has also drawn the attention of 2016 presidential candidates, including Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton who this summer has been hosting forums on the issue.

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