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For Immediate Release


Press Release

Drug Policy Alliance Statement on Overdose Deaths Exceeding 100,000 for the First Time Over 12 Month Period

Illustrates Urgent Need to Implement Proven Public Health Approaches Over Criminalization and other Failed Enforcement Tactics of the Past

In response to new CDC provisional overdose counts (over 100,000 deaths) for the 12 months ending in April 2021, Maritza Perez, Director of the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement:

“The latest numbers are heartbreaking and further proof that criminalization and racially-motivated enforcement-first approaches to drugs are not working. In fact, these approaches have fueled the overdose crisis by pushing people into risky situations, making the drug supply unregulated and unsafe, and wasting resources on punishment instead of harm reduction and other health-services proven to save lives.

“While we commend the Biden Administration for their efforts to move the needle on harm reduction strategies, it is extremely concerning that they still continue to push for tougher enforcement—especially as it relates to fentanyl related substances— only worsening this crisis and creating more racial disparities. You simply cannnot have it both ways and the US government cannot arrest its way out of this crisis.

“With countless more lives at stake, there’s no time left to play politics and continue down this path. We must divest once and for all from these failed interventions of the past. It’s time the Administration and Congress take concrete action—starting with actually funding the harm reduction strategies they are proposing—and pass the MAT Act and the STOP Fentanyl Act, two critical pieces of legislation that provide vital access to the care and support people need.”


The Drug Policy Alliance is the nation’s leading organization promoting drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.

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