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

May 3, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan, Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee’s Legislative Branch Subcommittee, today issued the following statement after voting in favor of the Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations spending bill to keep the government funded through September.

April 28, 2017 Press Release

 Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13), with Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), and Congresswomen Marcy Kaptur (OH-9) and Joyce Beatty (OH-3), introduced The Breaking Addiction Act of 2017.  As Ohio continues to grapple with a deadly heroin/opioid epidemic, this legislation breaks down barriers to treatment and increases the number of beds available for patients suffering from substance use disorder.

April 20, 2017 Press Release

Warren, Ohio – Congressman Tim Ryan praised the release of $26 million in grant funds from the Department of Health and Human Services to help combat the opioid addiction crisis in Ohio. This funding, which is the first of two rounds provided from the 21st Century Cures Act, will be provided through the State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grants administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The $485 million worth of aid will be distributed across all 50 states to help combat this ongoing crisis.  

April 19, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan calls on to President Donald Trump to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, to declare the opioid addiction crisis a Public Health Emergency. This authority is granted to Secretary Price under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act. Such a declaration would free up federal funds for communities struggling to cope with this ongoing addiction epidemic.

April 4, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC –Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) introduced a bipartisan bill on Monday to help improve prescription drug monitoring programs and reduce opioid abuse.

March 29, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan today responded to President Trump's Executive Actions to combat the ongoing heroin and opioid addiction crisis. This action would establish a commission tasked with identifying federal funding streams that could be directed to address the epidemic, and to develop a formal recommendation for the best path forward to combat this ongoing public health emergency.

March 7, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan today led a bipartisan coalition of 23 members of Congress calling on President Trump to include full funding of $9.3 billion to fight the opioid and prescription drug epidemic in the United States. Ryan is the Co-Chair of the Congressional Addiction Treatment and Recovery Caucus.

March 3, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Tom Rooney (R-FL) introduced the Stop Trafficking in Fentanyl Act of 2017 today, a bill that amends the Controlled Substances Act to ensure the law appropriately reflects the potency of the opioid fentanyl.

February 3, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan responds to national report naming Ohio the number one state destination for fentanyl in the nation. Fentanyl is a deadly synthetic opioid that is 30 to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Ohio’s total positive lab tests for fentanyl are four times higher than the next highest state, Pennsylvania. Report shows most of these deadly drugs are coming from China. Find full report here.

January 11, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Dave Joyce (R-OH) announces new Co-Chairs of the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus. Rep. Sensenbrenner is the new Republican Co-Chair and Rep. Joyce is the new Republican Vice-Chair – Rep. Ryan remains the Democratic Co-Chair and Rep. Tonko remains as the Democratic Vice-Chair. This important Caucus works to educate and raise awareness among lawmakers about addiction prevention, treatment and substance abuse.