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
Youngstown, Ohio – Congressman Tim Ryan announces $940,000 per year, for the next four years, to the State of Ohio for prescription drug overdose prevention from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This funding has been made available through the new Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention for States program (PDO PfS). Ohio is one of 16 states funded to scale up interventions to address and reverse the prescription drug overdose epidemic that is causing harm to individuals, families, and communities throughout the United States.
Washington, D.C. – With increasing numbers of Americans falling victim to drug addiction and overdoses from heroin and opiates, Congressman Tim Ryan (D, OH-13) and Congressman David Joyce (R, OH-14) joined Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R, WI-5) in introducing bipartisan legislation that could help turn the tide in the struggle against this epidemic.