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Providing SUPPORT against the opioid addiction scourge

As a member of the Presidential Task Force on Opioids, I’ve witnessed firsthand President Trump’s commitment to address and eliminate the scourge of opioid addiction.

It’s no secret that Ohio, particularly Eastern and Southeastern Ohio, has been hit particularly hard by the opioid crisis.

A year ago, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act was signed into law. After months of work, the House and Senate sent sweeping, bipartisan legislation to President Trump’s desk to be signed. It was the most significant legislative response ever to the opioid crisis.

In 2018, for the first time in 30 years, there was a decline in drug overdose deaths nationwide. As part of the SUPPORT Act, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is launching a new tool to help and identify, report, and stop suspicious orders of opioids. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is using authority provided by the legislation to require drugs that have the potential risk of abuse to be placed in special packaging; and, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is establishing an interdepartmental committee to identify areas for improved coordination related to substance use disorder (SUD) research, services, and support and prevention activities across all relevant agencies.

Important legislation I authored, H.R. 5261, the Training, Education, and Community Help (TEACH) to Combat Addiction Act, was also a major component of the SUPPORT Act. Institutions that educate the next generation of health care of professionals play a vital role in preparing the workforce to combat substance use disorder. My legislation advances an all-hands-on-deck approach by recognizing and leveraging the expertise of these institutions to more fully integrate Substance Use Disorder (SUD) prevention, treatment, and recovery into health professional education, as well as to partner with their communities on scalable strategies to combat SUD. This will be particularly helpful in rural and underserved areas.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: We can pass laws that help, but it’s going to take all of us to solve this problem. Everyone from elected officials (at all levels), community leaders, law enforcement, the courts, families, educators, and our faith community leaders, must be involved – as Americans. As a country, we are not going to be able to arrest, incarcerate, spend, or legislate our way out of this problem.

Have we made progress? Yes, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. However, there is still a long way to go, and we can’t take our eye off the ball. As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I will continue working on this issue so we can identify and support policies that work, and where we can further improve.

I’ve visited and met with countless volunteers and others dedicated to turning the tide locally on this scourge. They recognize, as do I — as do you — that addiction does not discriminate by age, race, social class, economic status, or political affiliation. Working together, we can extinguish this epidemic once and for all.

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