Congressional Republicans are getting ready to try to end an opioid epidemic which has plagued the country for more than a decade.
“Our nation is in the midst of the deadliest drug crisis in history — a crisis fueled by opioids,” writes House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, via a USA Today op-ed.
The crisis has claimed the lives of more than 630,000 Americans since 2000, according to McCarthy. “That means almost as many people have died from drugs in less than two decades as those who died in the Civil War. More than half of the deaths in 2016 involved opioids,” he calculated.
We’ve lost 630,000 Americans to overdoses since 2000. We’re in the midst of an #OpioidEpidemic. The House will soon consider more than 60 bills to combat this epidemic because we can’t let opioids continue to ravage our communities. More from @GOPLeader: https://t.co/kaNPkUlINQ
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) May 23, 2018
McCarthy describes the number of people affected by the opioid crisis as “staggering” and said congressional attempts to fight back against the lethal addiction is already underway.
“Drugs inflict enormous damage on American families and communities by tearing spouses, parents, friends and neighbors away from the relationships that make life meaningful,” the majority leader wrote.
Drugs even harm the youngest and most vulnerable among us. The number of babies suffering from withdrawal because of their mothers’ opioid abuse has increased five-fold since 2000. So even as we attempt to heal the current generation of people addicted to drugs, the next generation is being exposed to drugs in the womb.
Beating the deadliest drug crisis in history will require nothing less than the biggest response in history.
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That response is already under way, led by President Trump and Republicans in Congress.
President Trump is working alongside Congress and has declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. This declaration allowed for federal agencies to utilize their attention and funds to combat the crisis. Trump has also sought to combat drug trafficking over the border by more strictly enforcing immigration laws.
Here’s more from McCarthy:
The House of Representatives is hard at work to support the president’s efforts. No fewer than eight committees are working on bills to combat the opioid crisis. The Energy and Commerce Committee considered and advanced 25 opioid bills last week alone.
Congress is advancing bills that would help precisely those people who are most threatened by opioids.
For example, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act would reform an outdated law so that patients’ substance abuse history can be listed in their medical records. This bill, promoted by Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., will give doctors access to information that can prevent tragic overdoses and improve patient safety.
The STOP Act, promoted by Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Mich., would reduce the flow of Chinese fentanyl into our country by giving law enforcement new tools to detect suspicious packages in the mail.
As McCarthy explained, these initiatives are just a couple of more than 60 bills currently in consideration to combat the epidemic.
He also said the effort will require a commitment from “every citizen to fulfill our duties to one another,” to raise awareness and to help those known to have a drug problem.
“In illegal drugs, America faces an enemy that has claimed more lives than the bloodiest war in our history. We need all hands on deck to defeat it,” McCarthy concluded.