From farm towns in the Heartland to timber communities along the coasts, one of the greatest threats to the future prosperity of our nation is drug addiction. In 2017, more than 70,000 Americans, or nearly 200 people each day, died due to a drug overdose. This is more than the number of Americans who died in the entirety of the Vietnam War. We are in the midst of an unprecedented addiction crisis, one that has impacted every small town and rural community across our country.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 6 million Americans misused prescription drugs in 2017. The majority of these drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from a home medicine cabinet.
On Saturday, April 27, each of us can take immediate action to protect our family, our friends, and our hometown from the tragic consequences of drug misuse by participating in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
Go to your home medicine cabinet. Identify unused or expired medications. Visit your local pharmacy and drop them off so they do not, tragically, end up in the wrong hands.
By visiting takebackday.dea.gov, you can locate a safe collection site near you and learn more about the dangers of unused prescription drugs. Such a simple yet powerful act is a critical part in our relentless efforts to save lives.
The Trump Administration realizes rural America faces unique challenges, such as fewer and less convenient prevention, treatment, and recovery options. That’s why we are relentless in our efforts to continually implement new and innovative solutions to meet these needs. In addressing the addiction crisis in the heartland, President Donald J. Trump has put in place a bold, whole-of-government approach that focuses on addressing these critical needs.
For example, last year, my office, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy teamed up with the United States Department of Agriculture to compile a federal rural resource guide to help rural leaders navigate the various Federal programs available to address the addiction crisis in small towns. In addition, the Administration helped numerous rural communities access addiction treatment and broader mental healthcare resources through its telemedicine and broadband infrastructure programs.
We also awarded a record number of Drug-Free Communities Program grants to support locally-led community coalitions focused on preventing and reducing local youth substance use. These grants will help local leaders in places like Monticello, a rural community in east central Illinois of just 5,100 people, take action.
And we are building on this momentum each day. USDA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration partnered to allow nonprofit organizations to buy houses at discounted prices and convert them to transitional housing for people recovering from a substance addiction. The first agreement of this initiative was in Kentucky at the Isaiah House, which provides treatment services and sets its participants up for success through job training programs.
We will continue to focus on expanding access to treatment services, increasing options for disposal of unused medication in rural areas, and improving access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders.
To build strong and healthy rural places, the Trump administration will continue its partnership with rural leaders, and I know, together, we will be relentless in these efforts. Addiction is a complex issue and it will take all of us working together to conquer it, particularly in rural communities. Efforts, such as National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, can help ensure that rural America is a place with a high quality of life and economic opportunity now and for the next generation.