The drug abuse epidemic is devastating communities and schools all across our country. In fact, overdoses from prescription painkillers and heroin are now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Even closer to home, the most recent data for Ohio shows that over 2,500 lives were lost to drug overdoses in 2014 alone. It is important we begin taking steps to break the cycle of drug abuse and crime in our communities – an effort that will take collaboration and a complete strategy at local, state and federal levels.
Recently, Congress reached a milestone in addressing this crisis by passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). At its core, CARA provides much needed funding to federal agencies by establishing a system of enhanced grant programs to implement and monitor local efforts to treat and prevent drug abuse in communities where it is needed most. Furthermore, CARA empowers communities to effectively address local issues by authorizing a $5 million Community-Based Coalition Enhancement Grant program.
Another key provision of CARA expands the distribution of Naloxone, a drug which can block the most harmful side effects of an opioid overdose to save lives. By opening up more access to Naloxone, first responders will have more time to administer medical treatment to someone overdosing on opioids and decrease overdose deaths. With over 2,200 lives that have already been saved by state funded Naloxone programs this past year, this is an important program that will be strengthened under CARA.
I am also proud to say that language from my bill, the Reducing Unused Medications Act, was included in the final version of CARA. This language allows patients and doctors to request a partial fill on their prescriptions in an effort curb the prevalence of unused medications available to be diverted or abused. This is just one more piece to the puzzle in keeping these drugs from falling into the wrong hands.
It was reassuring to see CARA signed into law by the President in a united effort to address this issue in our country. While this issue will not be solved overnight, CARA is critical progress in the battle against drug abuse.
Whether voting on legislation in Washington or assisting you with a federal agency, it is my honor to serve you, and I look forward to hearing from you. Feel free to call my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-2015, Hilliard office at (614) 771-4968, Lancaster office at (740) 654-2654 or Wilmington office at (937) 283-7049 with any questions or comments you have about issues facing the federal government.
Steve Stivers is a member of Congress from Ohio’s 15th Congressional District.