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 29, 2016 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Tim Ryan released the following statement criticizing President-elect Trump’s selection of Tom Price as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

September 7, 2016 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan announces $250,000 to support Drug Free Community initiatives in our area. The Coalition for a Drug-Free Mahoning County has been awarded $125,000. And the Community Awareness and Prevention Association Coalition Community: Brecksville and Broadview Heights has been awarded $125,000.

July 8, 2016 Press Release

Congressman Tim Ryan today voted in favor of the Conference Report on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2016, a bill creating a comprehensive opioid abuse reduction program that will provide targeted focus on how to tackle the massive problem of substance abuse – through prevention, treatment, recovery support, criminal justice reform, law enforcement, and overdose reversal. Congressman Ryan was the lead Democratic sponsor of CARA in the House of Representatives. This bill has passed the House and is waiting on final passage in the Senate.

July 6, 2016 Press Release

Akron, OH – Congressman Tim Ryan statement regarding recent reports that Summit Country had 19 heroin overdoses in 24 hours.

May 24, 2016 Press Release

Washington, DC – With 129 Americans dying each day from drug overdose, Congressman Tim Ryan worked closely with colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee to secure $103 million to combat the opioid epidemic in the Fiscal Year 2017 Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which passed by voice vote.  This funding represents a comprehensive response to addiction, which includes programs for prevention, treatment, recovery, law enforcement, and criminal justice reform.

May 13, 2016 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan votes in support of comprehensive opioid and heroin prevention legislation – this package of bills passed the House of Representatives today with bipartisan support. In March, the Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), the differences between the House and Senate versions of this legislation will be worked out in Conference.

April 21, 2016 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Ryan today hosted a briefing on the dramatic increase in maternal opioid use and neonatal abstinence syndrome. This briefing was in conjunction with the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus (in which Ryan is the Co-Chair) and the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic (in which Ryan is a member).

March 29, 2016 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan today applauds President Obama’s plan to address our nation’s growing heroin and prescription drug epidemic. President Obama announced his actions at this year’s National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit.

September 24, 2015 Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan, Chairman of the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus, made the following statement in response to the 2014 Ohio Drug Overdose Preliminary Data Report released today by the Ohio Department of Health. The data shows that unintentional drug overdoses caused the deaths of 2,482 Ohio residents last year. This is the highest number of deaths on record from drug overdose and reflects a 17.6 percent increase compared to 2013 when there were 2,110 drug overdose deaths.

September 4, 2015 Press Release

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.