April 5 (UPI) — President Joe Biden will make an appearance Monday at the 10th annual Drug and Heroin Summit, but his presence will be in a prerecorded video message to describe how addiction has affected his family.
“President Biden’s participation in the summit signals that the addiction crisis is a top priority for the administration and underscores its gravity,” Doug Edwards, vice president of HMP Global and director of its Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Learning Network, said in a statement.
Edwards said COVID-19 has exacerbated the addiction crisis because treatment, rehabilitation and public health programs have been disrupted and isolation has increased among Americans with substance abuse problems.
“We are very grateful that the president will address the stakeholders working every day to find solutions that end this public health emergency,” Edwards added.
The summit opens a day before Biden’s son Hunter, who has had a well-documented struggle with addiction, releases a book Tuesday. In Beautiful Things, Hunter Biden details his dependence and tells how his family fought to intervene to save his life.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell leads a list of congressional members who will make presentations at the drug summit. Fifteen other members of Congress, two governors and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky will also speak.
“Everyone and every community need to see this for what it is, not only a public health crisis but a personal one,” Nancy Hale, president and CEO of Operation UNITE, said in a statement.
“Those who are lost or who are suffering are our friends, family members, and neighbors, no one is immune to the effects of this horrific epidemic.”