Legislation addresses nationwide epidemic of heroin and opioid abuse and addiction
(DES MOINES, Iowa) Attorney General Tom Miller, along with a bipartisan group of attorneys general, this week urged congressional leaders to pass legislation that would provide states with more tools to confront the heroin and opioid abuse and addiction.
Miller and attorneys general from 36 states plus the District of Columbia today sent a letter to the leadership of the Committee on the Judiciary for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives urging passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 (S. 524/HR 953).
“We need to bolster addiction treatment and recovery options,” Miller said. “Adding health care solutions to help combat this nationwide epidemic will no doubt complement what we’re already doing on the law enforcement front.”
People who take prescription painkillers can become addicted with just one prescription. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- In 2013, nearly two million Americans abused prescription painkillers.
- In 2013, drug overdose was the leading cause of injury death—more than 100 deaths every day—surpassing motor vehicle crashes among ages 25-64. More than half of these deaths were caused by prescription drugs or heroin.
- Each day, almost 7,000 people are treated in emergency departments for using these drugs in a manner other than as directed.
In the letter, the attorneys general write, “Law enforcement has always been on the frontline when it comes to drug crises, but we cannot arrest ourselves out of this current epidemic. Research shows the best way to address this challenge is through a strategy that includes prevention, law enforcement, reduction of overdose deaths, evidence-based treatment, and support for those in, or seeking, recovery.”
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 would:
- Expand prevention and educational efforts – particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations – to prevent the abuse of opioids and heroin and to promote treatment and recovery.
- Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives.
- Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment.
- Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of children and adolescents.
- Launch and evidence-based opioids and heroin treatment and intervention program to assist in treatment and recovery throughout the country.
- Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.
“Only through a comprehensive approach that leverages evidence-based law enforcement and health care services, including treatment, can we stop and reverse current trends,” Miller said.