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State AGs call for passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act
September 29, 2015
(AUGUSTA) As states continue to address the epidemic of heroin and opioid-based painkiller abuse and addiction and its devastating effect on public health and safety in communities, Attorney General Janet T. Mills is joining attorneys general from 37 states and the District of Columbia today, in a bi-partisan letter to the leadership of the committees on the Judiciary for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives urging passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 (S. 524/HR 953).
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act would provide states with the tools to confront the growing challenge of heroin and opioid abuse and addiction. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses now surpass automobile accidents as the leading cause of injury-related death for Americans between the ages of 25 and 64. More than 100 Americans die as a result of overdose in this country every day – more than half of them caused by prescription drugs or heroin. In Maine in 2014 a record number of people died from drug overdose – 208. Heroin, fentanyl and prescription opiates are the primary cause of these deaths in Maine. “We know that addiction is a treatable disease, but we also know that only about 10 percent of those who need treatment are receiving it. And, while heroin and opioid abuse are the primary concern for states right now, we must move beyond simple responses to drug trends and emerging threats, and concentrate on improving addiction treatment and recovery nationwide,” said Attorney General Mills. In the letter, the attorneys general write, “Law enforcement has always been on the frontline when it comes to drug crises, but we cannot arrest ourselves out of this epidemic. Research shows the best way to address this challenge is through a strategy that includes prevention, law enforcement, reduction of overdose deaths, evidence-based treatment, and support for those in, or seeking, recovery.”
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 will: • Expand prevention and educational efforts – particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations – to prevent the abuse of opioids and heroin and to promote treatment and recovery; • Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives; • Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment; • Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of children and adolescents; • Launch an evidence-based opioids and heroin treatment and intervention program to assist in treatment and recovery throughout the country; and • Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services. “Only through a comprehensive approach that leverages evidence-based law enforcement and health care services, including treatment, can we stop and reverse the epidemic of drug addiction and death,” added Attorney General Mills.