Immediate action is needed to fight the opioid and heroin epidemic
Prescription drug overdoses kill more adults between the ages of 25 and 64 than do traffic accidents. More than 200,000 Americans died of prescription opioid overdoses in the last 15 years – more than we lost in WWII. Overdose deaths were five times higher in 2016 than in 1999.
The opioid and related heroin epidemic is wrecking lives and families, rich and poor, black, brown and white. Everybody knows someone who has been affected by it. We cannot stand idly by.
The problem is complex and needs solutions on several levels — and quickly. We can’t let partisan politics get in the way of effective policies. The federal government should partner with the states to invest in effective prevention, treatment and rehabilitation programs. Families need the resources to help them start healing.
Electronic prescriptions are better than paper prescription pads to cut down on forgeries and help reduce dosing errors. We should encourage policies that increase the number of doctors using this technology, currently only 8%.
An important step that we can take is to make medical marijuana legal across the United States. Marijuana has been shown to offer an effective, non-addictive path to dealing with chronic pain. As a member of Congress, I’ll fight to ensure that the federal government decriminalizes the use of medical marijuana so that we can put it to work in curbing the opioid epidemic.
We must also bring to justice those who have profited from the opioid epidemic, whether they are on the street, in doctors’ offices, or in corporate boardrooms.