Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine met with White House Drug Policy Acting Director Michael Botticelli to discuss the opioid crisis in Virginia and next steps to combat the epidemic. Last month, Kaine praised Botticelli’s announcement in Roanoke that the Administration plans to direct $25.5 billion toward public health and criminal justice initiatives that will help tackle rapidly growing rates of prescription painkiller and heroin abuse across the country.
“Drug abuse knows no traditional boundaries – it is an epidemic that impacts many ages, regions, and socioeconomic groups,” said Kaine. “This is a public health and safety crisis, and also an economic crisis. On a recent trip to Bluefield in April, I learned that local employers were having trouble because many of their workers had prescription drug abuse issues. Drug abuse is a problem we are facing in cities, suburbs, and rural communities across the Commonwealth and the country. It’s time for Congress, the Administration, and state governments to work together to holistically address this issue using strategies that have succeeded in local communities.”
Kaine described his experience speaking at a drug court graduation in Roanoke earlier this month, and expressed support for expanded integration of drug courts – which have been a successful tool in Virginia – into the 2014 National Drug Control Strategy.
During the meeting, Botticelli discussed how communities in Virginia will benefit from the Administration’s 2014 National Drug Control Strategy, which focuses on public education to prevent drug abuse, expanded access to treatment and interventions in the event of an overdose, and reform of the criminal justice system.
“Public opinion on drug policy is finally catching up to what the science has demonstrated for quite some time,” said Acting Director Botticelli. “We cannot incarcerate addiction out of people. While law enforcement should always play a vital role in protecting communities from violent drug-related crime, we must acknowledge that public health and criminal justice initiatives should work together to address this complex challenge. This issue touches every family and every community in one way or another. There are millions of Americans – including myself – who are in successful long-term recovery from a substance use disorder. The criminal justice innovations and deep community support in Roanoke, Virginia, where we released the 2014 National Drug Control Strategy, demonstrate a real commitment to a smarter, more humane approach to drug policy in the 21st century.”
Kaine, along with 11 other members of the bipartisan Virginia delegation, has called on Governor Terry McAuliffe to establish a statewide task force to address the rapid spread of heroin use across the Commonwealth and its devastating impact on Virginia communities. Kaine also wrote to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in April, expressing concern that recent fda approval of Zohydro ER could heighten the public health risk of opioid abuse in Virginia. Last month, Kaine visited Richmond-based pharmaceutical company Kaléo, which recently received fda approval for its new naloxone auto-injector delivery system EVZIO™. EVZIO™ is the first and only naloxone product intended to be available for immediate administration by family members or caregivers for suspected opioid overdose.