Addressing the Addiction Crisis

Addressing Addiction Crisis

Our nation, and Massachusetts in particular, is in the grip of an opioid abuse crisis. I am committed to addressing this epidemic by ensuring access to treatment, supporting prevention programs, and improving our justice system.

Last year, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH) and I introduced the Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015, legislation that takes proactive steps to help hospitals diagnose and treat newborns suffering from opiate exposure. Reports show the significant rise of opiate abuse has led to an alarming increase of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). The Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015 is the first federal legislation to help newborns suffering from opioid exposure. Because there is no standardized diagnosis and treatment for these newborns, hospitals across the country have begun piecing together their own treatments in response to the surge of NAS births. The legislation passed unanimously in the U.S. House the fall of 2015, clearing the way for President Obama’s signature.

Additionally, I submitted a letter urging the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to support policies aimed at reducing deadly surpluses of opioid medication. The DEA estimates that 6.5 million Americans abused prescription drugs in the past year, citing that a majority of abused drugs are obtained from friends and family, including from home medicine cabinets. Legislation introduced in the Massachusetts legislature would permit the partial filling of opioid prescriptions, however, current DEA regulations mostly prohibit partial filling.

Forty seven members of Congress have signed my letter to DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg urging the DEA to update regulations that present barriers to states’ proposals to allow partial filling.

The opioid crisis affects every part of our society and nowhere is it more visible than in the criminal justice system.

I led the Massachusetts Congressional delegation in calling for the Justice Department to undertake the use of anti-addiction medications in jails, federal prisons and reentry centers to help individuals suffering from addiction successfully reenter society. Similar programs in Massachusetts have found success in treating addiction, curbing prison overcrowding, and reducing recidivism.

For more information concerning my work and views on these issues, please contact me.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you.

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