Bob Goodlatte: Ending the opioid epidemic

bob goodlatteIt’s a problem that affects Americans in all parts of the country. It doesn’t discriminate across socioeconomic lines, distinguish between urban, suburban, and rural, or limit itself to the young or old.

Today, the United States is in the throes of an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse and heroin use. The statistics are shocking. Approximately 46,000 Americans die from a drug overdose each year. 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.

This problem has rightfully gained the attention of Congress. The House of Representatives recently approved 18 bills to fight the opioid epidemic and provide treatment to help people reclaim and rebuild their lives, including the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse and Reduction Act. Not only does this bipartisan bill provide necessary resources to state and local governments to help prosecute opioid drug traffickers and help prevent and treat opioid addiction, it also saves taxpayers’ dollars by streamlining the grant program to eliminate government waste and red tape. The comprehensive opioid abuse grant program created by this bill will give states and localities maximum flexibility to attack opioid abuse issues unique to their communities, and it will result in no additional burden on the American taxpayer.

Congress is taking action to prevent and treat opioid addiction, as well as ensure our nation’s drug laws are strengthened to stop the flow of illicit drugs into our country. We are one step closer to seeing legislation signed into law to help fight this scourge on our communities, including Virginia’s Sixth District. I have been named to a Conference Committee where Members of the House and Senate, on both sides of the aisle, will come together to work out the differences between opioid abuse bills passed by both chambers. I hope that we can quickly put a final bill on the President’s desk. The tragic stories of those lost to drug abuse cannot become commonplace.

Bob Goodlatte represents the Sixth District of Virginia in Congress.

         
 

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