Home Social Justice Portman urges Senate to pass legislation to fight heroin epidemic

Portman urges Senate to pass legislation to fight heroin epidemic

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Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, testified for his bill, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015, on Wednesday at the Senate Judiciary Committee. The goal of this hearing was to explain the necessary steps to combat heroin and prescription drug abuse across the country, as well as what Congress can do to help fight the heroin epidemic.

In the past decade, heroin use in the U.S. has more than doubled among adults between the ages of 18 and 25. Between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled, and more than 8,200 people died in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“S.524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), is a bipartisan bill that addresses this issue head on and does so in a comprehensive way through prevention, through treatment, through recovery,” Portman said in the hearing on Wednesday. “(In 2014) 2,482 Ohioans died from a drug overdose.”

The key points of Portman’s legislation would expand prevention and education to prevent the use of opioids and heroin and encourage recovery programs.

Portman is also the author of the Stopping Medication Abuse and Protection Act, which was created to prevent access to opioids, and the Drug-Free Communities Act, which provides people with millions of dollars to support hundreds of community anti-drug partnerships around the country.

At Ohio University, there is a small percentage of students who use opiate pain medications and heroin, according to Terry Koons, associate director of the Campus Involvement Center.

“We have a very small student population who report using opiate pain meds for non-medical use: 2 percent. Student heroin use is .02 percent,” Koons said. “We provide recovery support through our Collegiate Recovery Community. We do not provide treatment services but relapse prevention.”

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act would also expand resources to individuals by providing evidence-based treatment. Evidence-based treatment looks at scientific evidence to determine the contributors and risk factors for symptoms, according to the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin believes that drug abuse is related to too many prescriptions.

“We changed our attitude in America and our practices in 1990 about how we deal with pain,” Shumlin said in the Senate hearing on Wednesday. “In 2010, we prescribed enough oxycodone to keep every adult in America high for a month. In 2012, we prescribed 250 million prescriptions of oxytocin.”

In Ohio, 47.4 percent of unintentional drug deaths in 2014 were related to heroin, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Jan Scaglione, diplomat of the American Board of Applied Toxicology and clinical toxicologist at Cincinnati’s Children’s Medical Center and Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center, believes saving lives is the most important thing to consider.

“Keep in mind that there is nothing that works for everyone, but everyone we save will go on and live another day. Since we are seeing more than one death a day still from all of the fentanyl being in the heroin supply, saving lives is of primary importance, Scaglione said. “Figuring out how to keep people from using is the next step.”

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  1. […] Rob Portman, R-Ohio, co-sponsored a bipartisan bill that was recently passed by the U.S. Senate, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, aimed […]


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