Bipartisan Legislation to Combat the Opioid Crisis
After months of bipartisan work by eight House committees and five Senate committees, this week a bipartisan agreement was reached on sweeping legislation to combat the opioid crisis.Opioid addiction knows no bounds. It doesn’t discriminate. Age, income, education – there are no real criteria for those who become addicted. The scale of the opioid epidemic in the United States can only be described as shocking. It is the deadliest drug overdose crisis in the history of our country. Prescription opioid abuse and heroin use are killing many Americans, every day. Many opioids are cheap and easy to come by, and that makes them all the more dangerous.
These drugs are destroying lives, families, and communities in our country and we must do everything in our power to stop this crisis. Lives have been taken far too early and bright futures wasted. For every person who has died as a result of opioids or remain hooked on these drugs, many others are impacted by their addiction. There were approximately 72,000 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2017. Recent studies have shown that more than half of chronic prescription drug abusers received those pills from prescriptions written for them or for friends and family.
Communities in Virginia are not immune. In 1999, approximately 23 people died from abuse of fentanyl, hydrocodone, methadone, and oxycodone – the leading prescription opioids abused. By 2013 that number jumped to a staggering 386 deaths, and, in 2014, the number of drug overdose deaths in Virginia surpassed the number of traffic fatalities for the first time. Just this week, a press conference was held in Roanoke by a team of folks brought together to form the Roanoke Valley Collective Response, in a public display of solidarity to address the region’s opioid and addiction epidemic. There is no quick and easy solution to wiping out this epidemic. It requires states, the federal government, and community groups to work together.
After months of bipartisan work by eight House committees and five Senate committees, this week a bipartisan agreement was reached on sweeping legislation to combat the opioid crisis. I am deeply proud of this work. Once signed into law, this legislation will send help to our communities fighting on the front lines of the crisis and to the millions of families affected by opioid use disorders. While there is more work to be done, this bipartisan legislation takes important steps, and will save lives.
The way forward must continue to be a multi-pronged approach to combating drug abuse. Enforcement, prevention, education, and treatment are key components. I will continue to work with folks in Sixth District communities as well as lawmakers in Congress to advance solutions that will provide more tools to help addicts reclaim and rebuild their lives, stop drug traffickers, and make our communities safer. I look forward to a future of recovery and hope for all people affected by this terrible epidemic.