Saturday, April 29, 2017
Billy Long: We must be aggressive in curbing opioid epidemic
At my age of 61 I have lots of lifetime friends with children in their 20's. Three of those friends have lost children to opioid overdoses in the last three years. Very tragic, but unfortunately a sign of the times.
Between 1999 and 2015, 12,585 Missourians died from a drug-induced overdose. Since 2000, Greene County has had one of the highest drug-induced overdose rates in Missouri. However, it is important to recognize that the victims number more than simply the body count. The tragedies associated with this epidemic reverberate throughout families across the nation.
Last December President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law which included aid to help fight opioid abuse. In April the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ announced the first round of nationwide grants and awarded Missouri $10 million to address prevention, treatment and recovery services.
President Trump is making it a priority to address this epidemic, and I look forward to working with him on this front. Drug overdoses continues to be the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Each day these tragic events claim 91 American lives. In 2015, 20,101 of the overall overdoses (52,404) were tied to prescription pain medication. Even the most innocent among us are falling victim to this scourge. In Missouri alone, there has been a 538 percent increase in babies born addicted to opiates.
This must be stopped. Opioid addiction affects us all, and we cannot afford to turn a blind eye. From the local to the national level we must be aggressive in our efforts to curb this epidemic lest families continue to crumble in its wake.
As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Health Subcommittee, I have been involved in in the passage of landmark legislation, such as the 21st Century Cures Act and the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. Each of these Acts target the ongoing crisis of opioid abuse, among other things, and each has been signed into law.
I will continue to work with my colleagues on legislation that will address this growing problem. No mother, father, brother or sister should be forced to confront such devastation alone. This is not about politics. This is about preserving humanity, and that is something we can all agree on.