Act Addresses Nationwide Epidemic of Heroin and Opioid Addition and Abuse
Oct. 2, 2015 – As states continue to address heroin and opioid-based painkiller abuse and addiction and its devastating effect on public health and safety, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes joined attorneys general from 36 other states and the District of Columbia this week in sending a letter to leaders 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 know addiction is a treatable disease, but that only approximately 10 percent of those who need treatment receive it,” said Attorney General Reyes. “As stated in our letter to Congressional leaders, we cannot arrest our nation out of the current drug epidemic alone. Only a comprehensive approach leveraging evidence-based law enforcement and health care services – including treatment – can effectively reverse current trends.”
In the letters, 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 though 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 would provide states with the necessary tools to more effectively confront the growing challenge of heroin and opioid abuse and addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses now surpass automobile accidents as the leading cause of injury-related death for Americans between the ages of 25 and 64. More than 100 Americans die as a result of overdose in this country every day – more than half of them caused by prescription drugs or heroin.
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 will:
· 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; and
· Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.