Opioid addiction is spreading at an alarming rate, devastating families and communities across the country. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that, at this very time, roughly 6.5 million Americans are abusing prescription drugs.These drugs are found in home medicine cabinets, bathroom counters, and can be fatal when they are abused or happen to fall into the wrong hands.
Addiction doesn’t care about your race or gender. It sees no income or political party. Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) says, the people battling this are “moms and dads, neighbors and students in our own communities.”
But perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is these are sick people trying to get well – not bad people trying to be good.
Nick Yacoub, an addiction survivor, shares his story
As addiction survivor Nick Yacoub puts it, “People in recovery are warriors, of a sort…We cannot do it alone. We have to find other warriors.”
And this week, we’ll take up a number of bills that work to provide the necessary support and resources to help end this problem once and for all.
Rep. Frank Guinta’s (R-NH), Good Samaritan Assessment Act of 2016, H.R. 5048, would protect first responders from liability laws that could interfere with the emergency treatment of opioid overdoses.
Rep. John Katko’s (R-NY) bill, the Kingpin Designation Improvement Act, H.R. 4985, would crack down on international drug trafficking in the United States.
The Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Expansion and Modernization Act, from Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), would improve access to opioid use disorder treatment.
The John Thomas Decker Act of 2016, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), would direct the Centers for Disease Control to provide educational materials to prevent addiction in teenagers and adolescents who are prescribed opioids, and Lali’s Law, H.R. 4586, sponsored by Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL), would increase access to the lifesaving opioid antidote, naloxone, throughout the United States.
Seems like a lot, but we’re just getting started. There’s more.
Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) has been leading the charge on an effort that would establish an inter-agency taskforce to review, modify, and update best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication, and Rep. Lou Barletta’s Improving Safe Care for the Prevention of Infant Abuse and Neglect Act, H.R. 4843, would require the Department of Health and Human Service to maintain information about the best practices of safe care for infants born affected by illegal substance abuse, withdrawal symptoms, or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) is emphasizing the role that Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) play in saving the lives of those who have overdosed, and is working to meet the shortage of first responders by removing barriers for veterans who have undergone military EMT training.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) is working to meet needs on the state and local level through establishing grants awarded to state and local governments to provide opioid abuse services, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is leading the effort to evaluate the effectiveness of these grant programs to ensure that they are working back home.
Of course, these are just a few examples of all the work we’ve been doing to fight back against this epidemic.
Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV) explains that “Republicans and Democrats alike are united on this issue.” This is something that affects all of us, because it is impacting all of our communities back home. Says Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), “these are real people battling addiction.”
With all of these bills, we work to attack every angle of this pervasive problem and as Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) puts it, will “help heal those who are suffering most.”