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

September 21, 2018 Press Release

Youngstown, OH – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) praised the release of $755,000 in grant funding for OH-13 from the Department of Health and Human Services to help combat the opioid addiction crisis in Ohio. Asian Service Action and Axesspointe Community Health Center, Inc. in Akron will receive $285,000 each, while Ohio North East Health Systems, Inc. will receive $185,000.

September 5, 2018 Press Release

Youngstown, OH – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) today announced $348,331 to Summit County to expand substance abuse treatment capacity in adult treatment drug courts and adult tribal healing to wellness courts. The funding comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

December 11, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) and Dave Joyce (OH-14) led 48 bipartisan lawmakers in asking the administration for additional emergency funding to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic.

November 30, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan called on Governor John Kasich to increase funding for Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) Drug Chemistry Laboratories. BCI’s labs need additional resources to help expedite drug testing and clear state backlogs. This is an integral part of holding drug traffickers accountable, and keeping them, and their products, out of our communities.

October 26, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan released this statement following President Trump’s declaration of a Public Health Emergency in response to the opioid addiction epidemic.

October 24, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) aimed at combating the role fentanyl plays in the opioid epidemic overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives today, in a vote of 412 to 3. The lead authors of this bill were Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).

October 19, 2017 Press Release

(Washington, DC) – Today Representatives Tim Ryan (OH-13), Annie Kuster (NH-02), Evan Jenkins (WV-03), and Jim Cooper (TN-05) introduced bipartisan legislation to improve the ability of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to pursue bad actors for distribution of prescription opioids. The legislation would repeal provisions of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act, which have hampered DEA’s efforts to stop the delivery of opioids and other medications to suspicious distributors.