Sept. 2, 2022 – As the first doctor to hold the position, he says he will embrace new strategies, including harm reduction tactics, which aim to reduce drug users’ risk of overdose, death, and disease in lieu of a hardline, abstinence-only attitude. Still, though, addiction treatment is dogged by stigma, underuse of existing medications, and ongoing debate about certain harm-reduction techniques. The debate came to a head last week in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill to allow supervised injection sites — essentially clinics where people can use illicit drugs under medical supervision so as to prevent overdose. Gupta sat down with STAT this week to discuss the ongoing crisis and the Biden administration’s efforts to address it. While circumspect about Newsom’s decision, Gupta did take several positions that are far more aggressive than any of his predecessors: Calling out doctors for their role in poor treatment outcomes; arguing that the addiction medication buprenorphine is widely misunderstood.


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