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Obama wants $1.1 billion to fight heroin and prescription opioid abuse

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President Obama is requesting an addition $1.1 billion in funding to fight the growing heroin epidemic and the abuse of prescription opioids in the US. If approved, the funding would arrive over two years in addition to the $400 million already set aside for 2016.

Most funding would go toward expanding access to treatment

The vast majority of the newly requested funding — $920 million — would be given to states to expand access to medication and treatment for people using opioids in harmful ways. States will be able to use the funding to decrease the cost to patients or to increase the number of people they have the ability to treat. Another $50 million would fund treatment providers, and the final $30 million would be used to research how effective current treatment programs are and what can be done to improve them.

Obama's dramatic increase in requested funding follows a spike in heroin deaths in the US, rising to over 10,000 in 2014; for most of the 2000s, the figure hovered around 2,000. Deaths have also been rising from overdoses of prescription opioid painkillers, up to nearly 19,000 last year.