4 States and Territories to Participate in NGA Policy Academy on Stimulant and Polysubstance Use

National Governors Association to Work With American Samoa, Connecticut, Michigan and West Virginia on Improving Care for Individuals Who Use Stimulants

American Samoa, Connecticut, Michigan and West Virginia will participate in the National Governors Association’s (NGA) Policy Academy on State Strategies to Improve Care for Stimulant and Polysubstance Use, intended to help state leaders identify and implement best practices to improve care and reduce overdoses among people who use opioids and stimulants, or combine substances, which is known as polysubstance use.

The NGA Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) is sponsoring the year-long policy academy to support Governors’ offices and other senior state officials to move beyond preliminary plans to developing and implementing action plans that result in significant actions and strategies to address the overdose epidemic. 

Although overdose deaths were increasing before 2020, the trend of accelerating drug overdose deaths worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Such deaths increased approximately 30 percent in the 12 months ending in December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, and provisional data estimates that more than 93,000 lives were lost in 2020. Synthetic opioids are still the main driver of these deaths, but drug overdose deaths involving psychostimulants such as methamphetamine are increasing with and without synthetic opioid involvement.

With support and partnership from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NGA has been working with states and territories to help them reorient interagency approaches toward comprehensive strategies and plans in their efforts to address overdose issues. The aim of this effort is to help facilitate a focused process through which states and territories develop statewide comprehensive approaches in their efforts to address overdose and substance use treatment issues writ large.

The academy will kick off with a virtual meeting of the state teams and will feature federal government leadership and substance use disorder experts on Oct. 6 and 7. Speakers include Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse; Regina LaBelle, acting director of National Drug Control Policy; Dr. Christopher M. Jones, acting director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; and Dr. Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The academy is the culmination of a year of learning calls and an experts’ roundtable that NGA hosted with national experts, Governors’ office staff and senior officials, researchers, academics and local organizations to better understand the current landscape and challenges from state leaders for addressing stimulant and polysubstance use at the state level. The kick-off event will mark the beginning of the second phase of the two-pronged approach and intensive work with the states and territory in the policy academy.