Prescription Drugs

White House Drug Czar Pushes For More Spending on 'Access' to Opioid Addiction Treatment

Following hour long town hall pushing opioid use hysteria


White House

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli appeared on CNN immediately following the network's hour-long opioid addiction town hall special to advocate for greater federal involvement in opioid use.

Botticelli was the first guest on Don Lemon's 10pm show, after the Prescription America: Made in the USA special, where Anderson Cooper talked to CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Drew Pinsky, an addiction specialist and reality television personality, as well as a bevy of other people connected to the hysteria over opioid addiction. Nobody during the hour-long show challenged the idea that addiction is a disease, that opioid abuse is an epidemic, or that the federal government ought to do more about it.

In the interview with Lemon, Botticelli insisted opioid addiction was a federal government priority. "The president has clearly made increasing access to treatment one of his top priorities," Botticelli said, saying the administration is proposing over $1 billion in spending to "ensure every American who needs treatment to get it." He called on Congress "to act" and "help" the administration.

Lemon asked Botticelli whether the federal government would impose "stricter control" on opioid prescriptions. Botticelli said the federal government has been pushing for mandatory prescriber education. "We are many years into this epidemic," Botticelli said. "We still need the medical community to rein in overprescribing."

Botticelli said the president has already required prescribers in the federal system to undergo mandatory training and that the administration has been "soliciting private commitments" from the medical community for "voluntary training." Botticelli claimed medical doctors—who go through between seven and 14 years of medical schooling and training before being licensed—get "little to no training on opioid addiction."

At one point, Lemon noted the American Medical Association is opposed to mandatory opioid training for medical doctors—one of the only hints in the entire interview, or the hour-long special before it, that there's not a broad consensus on the issues surrounding opioid use.

Congress is voting on 18 bills related to opioid addiction in the next weeks. Botticelli said while he was "appreciative of the attention" to opioid use, many of the bills did little because, Botticelli argued, what was really necessary was "increased funding."

Botticelli said there were "countless stories" of people who said they wanted to get treatment for opioid use but couldn't because of "long waiting lists" and other unspecified issues. "This needs to be resourced based on the magnitude of the crisis," Botticelli insisted. In the last 15 years, there have been about 165,000 overdoses linked to prescription opioids, according to the CDC.  Most of the fatalities involve the use of other prescription medication as well. CNN noted about 100 deaths a day from such overdoses around the country, which is less than .01 percent of all deaths.

NEXT: Austin Petersen, the Conservative's Libertarian Presidential Candidate?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Why don’t we just ban addiction? It’s so simple!

    1. Shush you!

      *wonders what to with hard-earned skills free-basing diarrhea pills*

  2. I don’t remember hearing any significant chatter about opioids, and then all of a sudden, in the last week, it’s like BLAM. What, the election wasn’t sensational enough?

    1. They’ve been trying to discourage doctors from prescribing for several years now, but since Prince’s death, they are ramping it way up to see if they can use fresh emotions to get the control they want.

      As usual, it’s only going to hurt those of us who need Vicodin about 3-4 pills a month and don’t abuse it. Die hard addicts will find a way to get it, and more people will become “criminals” in the process.

      For teh childrens!

  3. I’m a drug addict and alcoholic. Which means that if you disagree that addiction is a disease, then you are ignorant, insane, in denial, lying, crazy and/or stupid. Addiction is a disease whereby they tell you not to do drugs and then you do them anyway and this creates a reward circuit in your brain that makes you do drugs even when they tell you not to. Do you get it now? No? Then you are an apostate infidel! This is why doctors must not prescribe opiates or benzodiazepams because people can get addicted to them and this creates an incredible craving for them whereby the patient might even have to turn tricks for the doctor to get them. And boy-oh-boy do I feel sorry for my doc, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

    1. I’m a drug addict and alcoholic.

      Fist bump.

    2. the patient might even have to turn tricks for the doctor to get them. And boy-oh-boy do I feel sorry for my doc

      I’m confused, are you turning tricks for your Doc or with your Doc? Cause I know which one makes me feel sorrier for him.

      1. A drug addict, an alcoholic, and a person who is addicted to the excitement and danger that comes from selling his body to a plethora of medical professionals.

        1. One day a client is just using you to demonstrate how to do an eye exam and the next you’re getting your prostate massaged. Its a rush. But you have to be careful. The surgeons are bad enough but you never know when a client might turn out to be a forensic pathologist or a coroner.

  4. I have bone marrow cancer that crushed my spine, leaving me in constant pain. But because of prescription opiates, I’m able to work a full-time job.

    I’ve already been hearing from our pharmacist how much the feds plan on cracking down, and they’re already insisting people like me should be on something like motrin rather than Norco. Oh, wait. I’m already on motrin, and aspirin, and Norco on top of those. Take away that last one, and it is just too painful to do anything.

    I’m expecting them to some point cut us off, and then I will no longer be able to work and will go on disability.

    But it’s important that we protect some people from themselves! God forbid there are actually people who use these medicines appropriately and it makes a serious difference in their lives.

    1. I’m glad you shared that, because it is people like you who are going to get hurt.

      However, your pain is nothing compared to “the children.” If we can save just one…

    2. When you go on disability….

      We’re going to Atlantis, right?

      (for the waterslides and babes, not for the over the counter opiates in the Bahamas, obviously)

      1. They have otc opiates in the Bahamas?

        *plans vacation*

        Not that bullshit 7.5mg codeine aspirin or that placebo Tramadol I hope.

        I like to swim, snorkel, sail and fish but if I can bang Ivy too I’m goin’ expat.

        1. I know there’s codeine at a minimum. I don’t really know the details; I’m not an opiate guy.

          I bought some headache meds for a hangover in the gift shop at the hotel at Atlantis, and it put my on my ass. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

          If you really want strong, unregulated shit, go to Mexico.

          I was in Cabo last December, and there’s a pharmacy on every corner. PAIN PILLS in huge letters in every storefront.

    3. You sir are a drug addict and alcoholic in denial. Where’s my dunking booth? Can I borrow someone’s woodchipper?

      1. Shoosh.

        Adults talking here.

    4. But it’s important that we protect some people from themselves!

      And you pay the price.

      This is the fundamental injustice of those people who supposedly “care enough to enslave”. To supposedly protect those who abuse drugs and themselves, they destroy those who are doing nothing wrong.

      Even if all this wonderful “caring” worked as planned, it shifts the costs of those who make mistakes on those who have not. Fundamentally unjust.

    5. Motrin and aspirin? Are you sure you’re okay? I’m taking enough aspirin to kill a small horse (~1,950 mg) in addition to my prescription pain meds and have become seriously worried about cardiovascular and/or hepatic damage.

      But it’s those evil, evil opiates that we *really* need to be worried about.

      1. I like your screen name. I had a friend in medical school I used to tease about her having Ehlers-Danlos, because her skin was a bit elastic. I hope you don’t actually have the condition. If you do, my sympathy, and I hope that you are doing OK.

        1. Oh, and I limit myself to four aspirin and four ibuprofen total each per day precisely because I don’t want long-term side effects. Given my cancer, my main concern is about kidney damage from the motrin, as my cancer cells are also rough on the kidney tubules like motrin can be.

          1. C. Anacreon, thank you for your kindness and concern and I would like to extend the same to you. I lost someone I loved very dearly (also a medical professional) to cancer and I hope things turn out better for you.

            Yes, I do have Ehlers-Danlos and that’s a key reason for my having opened this account. After the CDC released its new opioid guidelines, I decided to let more people know what it’s like to be a pain patient. Without being too kvetchy, I have some pretty bad issues with my hips (tendinitis, joint effusion, frayed cartilage, labral tear), ankles (severe ligament tears), shoulders (history of subluxation with no trauma), and spine (kyphosis, weak back muscles, neck subluxation). All this has put me on disability at an early age. I used to take Aleve, but due to stabbing stomach pains my gastroenterologist told me that my GI tissues were too fragile to handle oral NSAIDs. Now aspirin and diclofenac are the only NSAIDs I use, and with my easy bruising I am trying to cut back on aspirin. Without Tylenol 3 and oxycodone, I’d be lost. Opioids are the most effective drugs for my pain and also probably the safest drugs for me considering my history. I’m moving to a medical marijuana state soon, and I hope that will give me more options.

            So the point of this rant is that the opioid war is hurting people, but I bet I don’t need to tell you that. Anyway, I wish you all the best in your own health battles and I hope accessing pain medication isn’t as difficult where you live.

  5. “Dr. Drew Pinsky, an addiction specialist and reality television personality,”

    One of those things is true.

    1. Neither of those things is true. One was only true during the 90’s.

    2. Wait, Dr. Drew has a personality?

  6. “In an interview on Kevin and Bean, Pinsky has stated he will speak to any media outlet including TMZ and The National Enquirer, but will not speak to the Los Angeles Times, explaining “They distort, and they mislead, and they take things out of context. I really am stunned at how shoddy their journalism is, so I stopped talking to them.”[57]

    Politically, Pinsky has increasingly spoken of the ‘tyranny’ of governmental overreach and the need for a “Liberty Party.”[58]”

    He’s OK, I guess,

  7. Gosh!! Shut up already feds & hysterical media wingnuts!! Focus on something really important: like medical error is the 3rd leading cause of death in US. Advocate for better nurse staffing in hospitals & clinics…register the addicts & control their dosage or let them die. Prescription narcs hasnt caused this “Epidemic!!” Happy Nurses Week

    1. register the addicts & control their dosage

      What could go wrong?

      Advocate for better nurse staffing in hospitals & clinics

      Translation: give us more money to do a shittier job.

    2. One question is, who counts as an “addict” in the eyes of the law and what hoops would legitimate pain patients need to jump through in order to avoid being placed on the register?

  8. If opioid addiction is a disease where are the mandatory minimums for diabetes?

  9. Government training on opioid prescribing? Not dying: Too bad, take Tylenol. No we don’t care if you put yourself into liver failure; it’s better than sinning. Dying: Are you thrashing and screaming? Non-stop for a few weeks? Ok you can take one Perc 5 every 12 hours administered in the presence of armed guards. If you build up tolerance you just need a medication holiday, none of that evil oxycotton for you!

    I don’t talk to a certain family member going on 13 years now because the doctor whipped her up into such a frenzy about not telling anyone about the opiate bottles and not throwing out the bottles without destroying the label lest dope fiends smash in her door to take these horribly addictive morality destroyers that she just immediately flushed anything a bed-ridden husband dying an excruciating death from end stage cancer got.

    “The medical community needs to rein in overprescribing.” FUCK OFF. Most people who want relief from pain are already denied adequate quantities of a medically safe medication with an extremely low risk of developing addiction if not already a substance abuser or suddenly cut off and forced into the black market. Underprescribing is a vastly more serious issue, and there have been some successful malpractice suits over it, and I hate to say it but we need far more of those to counter the fear of the DEA.

    1. As a chronic pain patient, the Tylenol thing is what scares me most. I’m already taking too much (900 mg per day does not initially seem like much, but in the long run it builds up) and I worry about what will happen if the pain gets worse.

      Of course, if a liver failure epidemic comes hard on the heels of the opiate war, they won’t blame Tylenol and admit defeat. Instead, I bet they’ll just blame alcohol and reinstate the Volstead Act.

      1. You can have 4 grams of Tylenol daily.

        1. Yeah, but if you take it every day for several years in addition to NSAIDs, like I have, going up to the 4-gram limit is probably not a great idea.

  10. OT: I think I found out how to break up with the liberal I’ve been “dating”. I told her she was ignorant halfway through her anti-GMO spiel.
    Yeah, she’s pissed. But fuck that mindset: millions should starve, thousands should go blind, just because “Monsato OMG”?
    Bitch, gimme the money I loaned you, you can keep the old laptop I loaned you.

    1. Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

    2. Next time recover your cash loan before you get into a kerfuffle. And cash loan to a gf that’s not clearly “the one?” That’s your first mistake.

  11. OT: I think I found out how to break up with the liberal I’ve been “dating”. I told her she was ignorant halfway through her anti-GMO spiel.
    Yeah, she’s pissed. But fuck that mindset: millions should starve, thousands should go blind, just because “Monsato OMG”?
    Bitch, gimme the money I loaned you, you can keep the old laptop I loaned you.

  12. Fuck the squirrels, too

  13. “more spending”? Why, what a novel idea! we should have more of these Czars.

  14. Why is this a federal issue? Nobody should give a crap if the federal government thinks opiod abuse is good or bad or big or small or dangerous or healthy because a junkie in New Haven isn’t a national problem. At best, it’s a problem for the junkie and, maybe, the New Haven police department. These people have more important issues they could investigate, like figuring out why they’re doing such a shitty job handling the problems they’re actually supposed to be handling and they’ve been given a shitload of money to handle. (Hint: Maybe it’s because you’re too damn busy sticking your noses where they don’t belong instead of sticking to just doing your damn job.)

    1. Solving real problems is hard.

    2. Why is this a federal issue?

      Same reason they want to make guns a federal issue. Those dirty drug pushers the next state over are undermining this state’s glorious anti-drug crusade.

  15. I think they’re doing this in part because they know they’re about to lose a very big chunk of the drug war when cannabis is legal everywhere. Therefore, it’s necessary to turn the pants shitting machine on high about something. Opiates will do, for now. Although you could sell any made up boogey monster to soccer moms and the other pants shitting professionals. If it were peanut butter, the results would be the same.

  16. In the last 15 years, there have been about 165,000

    That’s 11,000/yr, in a country of 300 million with 2.5 million deaths per year.


    Oh, and ‘for the good of others’ is not sufficient justification for the use of force.

  17. Slightly OT: The City of SF gives out millions of free needles a year. They end up everywhere. I step over them all the time and have seen my kids friends pick them up. Giving free crap out always ends up bad. Assigning a value of zero leads people to not care. If instead of giving out needles to help prevent communicabe diseases there was a price you would not see that amount of discarded rigs.

    1. But, but, but, if there was a price they’d be sharing them!

    2. It is my understanding that OTC needle sales are basically illegal. Remember the government’s MO: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

  18. My buddy’s step-mother makes $85 an hour on the laptop . She has been fired for 9 months but last month her payment was $14465 just working on the laptop for a few hours.Visited Here…H5…


  19. An estimated 100 million Americans are chronic pain sufferers. How does treating 1/3 of the population progressively more as a de facto underclass not boil over into a major political movement?

    1. A good many of those “chronic pain sufferers” are ardent drug warriors. Plenty of people will pop pills right before decrying the evils of drug addiction.

      1. What’s with the scare quotes?

        1. It is a reference to the hypocrisy of the individuals I described.

      2. Experiencing worsening chronic pain actually changed my opinions on the drug war significantly. I stopped deeming it ineffective and started deeming it actively harmful to innocent people.

  20. 2?once I saw the draft of 3500 bucks, I admit that my sister was like really generating cash in his free time with his COM. My aunt has done this for only 6 months and by now repaid the loan on their home and bought a new BMW..K3..


  21. Are you single tonight? A lot of beautiful girls waiting for you to
    The best adult dating site!

  22. Check out this article about the present state of bills around the US pertaining to the War on Drugs and another overview of the issue. It gives great context to the current state of this war in US legislation.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.