Press Release

Tuesday, Aug. 29 Press Teleconference: What Can Be Done to Reduce Skyrocketing Overdose Deaths?

Experts Call for Health-Based Solutions, on Eve of International Overdose Awareness Day

Administration Ignores Life-Saving Measures, While Ramping Up Counterproductive Drug War

Tommy McDonald, 510-679-2311,
Tony Newman, 646-335-5384,

More than 59,000 people died from a drug overdose last year, making this the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.  And these record-high numbers are only getting worse.  In anticipation of International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31, the Drug Policy Alliance will host a press teleconference to address why this problem has gotten out of control, who is impacted, relevant pending legislation, and viable solutions.

President Donald Trump has been criticized for failing to deliver on his promise to increase access to opioid treatment. Instead he is backing health care legislation and proposing major cuts to Medicaid that cumulatively would decimate access to opioid treatment and mental health services for those most impacted.  At the state level, some legislators are considering bills that would allow prosecutors to charge people who provide the drugs that ultimately contribute to an overdose death with homicide – which would only cause more harm.

Experts in the upcoming press teleconference will discuss these dangerous proposed policies and address the following questions:

How has criminalization contributed to the overdose crisis? What exactly is the opioid pain medication, fentanyl, and the role that it plays in the crisis? Why are mandatory minimums not the answer? How will people’s access to treatment be impacted by the proposed Republican health care bill?  How has the current opioid crisis engendered a different set of responses than past drug crises that were seen as primarily affecting Black and/or Latinx communities?   What is the role of supervised consumption services in reducing overdose?

WHAT:  Press Teleconference in Advance of International Overdose Awareness Day

WHEN:  Tuesday, August 29 at 1pm (ET) / 10am (PT)

HOW:  Contact Tony Newman for call-in information (646-335-5384)


  • California Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, sponsor of California’s supervised consumption services legislation.
  • Lindsay LaSalle, Senior Staff Attorney, Drug Policy Alliance
  • Bill Piper, Senior Director of National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance
  • Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director, Drug Policy Alliance
  • Denise Cullen, Executive Director of GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing) and Broken No More, an outspoken advocate for drug policy reform after losing her son, Jeff, to an overdose in 2008. Her organizations serve over 2,500 families who have lost loves ones to an overdose, and have 85 chapters across the U.S. and Canada. See her story here.

The Drug Policy Alliance recently released a comprehensive action plan to address increasing rates of opioid use and overdose.  The plan marks a radical departure from the punitive responses that characterize much of U.S. drug policy and instead focuses on scientifically proven harm reduction and public health interventions that can improve treatment outcomes and reduce the negative consequences of opioid misuse, such as transmission of infectious diseases and overdose.

Drug Overdose