Prescription Drug and Heroin Epidemic | Congressman Tim Ryan
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Prescription Drug and Heroin Epidemic


A prescription drug and heroin epidemic is currently sweeping our state and the nation. Opioid deaths have surpassed 30,000 for the first time in history.  I have personally seen tragedy play out in our community due to the readily available nature of these drugs.  In Ohio, fatal drug overdoses have been the leading cause of accidental death since 2007, with heroin-involved deaths rising from 16 percent of all drug overdoses in 2008 to 22 percent in 2010. These numbers are unacceptable, and more needs to be done to stem the ever-growing tide. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus and member of the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic, I have made it my priority to educate and raise awareness about the dangers of heroin and opioid abuse.

Substance abuse costs our nation $600 billion in health care, criminal justice, and lost productivity costs, but that is nothing compared to the toll it takes on our families and friends. We cannot continue to allow heroin and prescription drugs to wreak havoc on our communities. There is no simple answer to how we combat this public health crisis, and we must treat addiction as a disease and respond accordingly. It needs to be a comprehensive approach that combines law enforcement, prevention, treatment, recovery support, overdose reversal and criminal justice initiatives.

Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery (CARA) Act

In the 114th Congress, I introduced the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery (CARA) Act to provide for a robust response to the heroin and prescription drug epidemic through prevention, law enforcement strategies, and the expansion of evidence-based treatment. I am proud that President Obama signed this important piece of legislation into law.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 expands prevention and educational efforts to prevent the abuse of opioids, increases the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other responders, and strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services. Furthermore, it creates a grant program to states to carry out a comprehensive opioid abuse response, reauthorizes a grant program for residential treatment for pregnant and postpartum women who have an opioid-use disorder and for their children, and expands prescription drug take-back programs. I was happy to continue this work in the 115th Congress with the introduction of CARA 2.0, which builds on the effort authorizes new funding and programs to combat this ongoing problem.

Increasing Access to Treatment

Right now, 2.1 million Americans abuse prescription pain relievers, yet only 1 in 10 gets treated. I believe we must make substance abuse treatment more accessible and affordable for anyone who makes the courageous decision to get help. That is why Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (OH-11) and I have introduced the Breaking Addiction Act, which would increase access to treatment by repealing the archaic IMD Exclusion once and for all and opens up treatment for those men and women who need it.

Expand Treatment and Recovery for Infants, Pregnant Women

We need to make sure we are doing everything in our power to protect the most vulnerable and innocent victims of this epidemic – infants. That is why I cosponsored the Protecting Our Infants Act, which creates a report on prenatal opioid abuse and neonatal abstinence syndrome, and develops strategies to address gaps in research and programs. I was proud this legislation became law in 2015. 

More on Prescription Drug and Heroin Epidemic

November 19, 2021 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) today voted to passthe Build Back Better Act, legislation that is fully paid for by making big corporations and the wealthiest pay their fair share. This vote comes days after President Biden signed the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law. Together, the Build Back Better Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will meet the urgent needs of Ohio families by creating jobs, cutting taxes, and delivering transformative investments that we need to compete with China. 

September 27, 2021 Press Release

Akron, Ohio – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) today announced that Child Guidance & Family Solutions of Summit County has received $1,399,07 in federal funding. This Mental Health and Substance Abuse Service Grant was awarded by the Center for Mental Health Services. 

Ryan is Co-Chair of the Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

July 19, 2021 Press Release

Youngstown, Ohio – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) today is announcing a $125,000 federal grant from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) for the Youngstown Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program (YUMADAOP) to enhance local ability to prevent and reduce substance misuse among youth and adults in Youngstown and Mahoning County. The grant will fund YUMADAOP’s Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program, with additional support provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

July 1, 2021 Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH), Co-Chair of the bipartisan Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 3.0 Act. Ryan was joined by fellow Co-Chairs of the Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery CaucusReps.

May 18, 2021 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) is today announcing the State of Ohio will receive over $96.7 million as part of a national distribution of the largest amount of funding to date for mental health and substance use block grant programs. This funding was provided through the American Rescue Plan. These funds included $52.2 million from the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant Program (SABG) and $44.5 million from the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG) Program. This money was dispersed to states today. 

May 4, 2021 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13), Co-Chair of the House Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus today introduced H.Res.364 alongside Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14).

April 1, 2021 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) today joined the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) in announcing a $500,000 grant for Flying High of Youngstown and a $45,308 grant for Coleman Professional Services of Kent. These grants will be used to fund expanded treatment, recovery and workforce support services for residents affected by a substance use disorder and to develop a recovery ecosystem for the workforce in four counties.

October 21, 2020 Press Release

Youngstown, Ohio – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) released the following statement in response to Purdue Pharma’s $8.3 billion opioid settlement with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). Ryan is the Chairman of the House Addiction Treatment and Recovery Caucus. 

Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family perpetrated one of the most egregious criminal acts in American history, intentionally addicting millions of unsuspecting people to powerful painkillers for profit and directly contributing to the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans.  

October 20, 2020 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) today announces three federal grants for the City of Youngstown and Portage County totaling $1,185,740 that will allow each jurisdiction to provide a treatment court and recovery support services to court-supervised individuals. 

October 16, 2020 Press Release

Washington, DC — Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13), joined by 37 other House members, delivered a letter to US Attorney General William Barr expressing their deep concern regarding recent and alarming reports that Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and members of the Sackler family are nearing a plea agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ), which would resolve all their federal criminal liability without a single person serving a day in prison.