In recent news, the House passed a bill to help combat the growing opioid epidemic in the United States. For those who are addicted to prescription painkillers or have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, this is incredible news. With the debates that happen in Washington D.C., it’s amazing to see that both parties are in agreement that the opioid epidemic is something that needs to be addressed and combatted. On May 13, with a vote of 400 to 5, the House approved a bill to help fight drug addiction. This bill is going to help provide funding to city and state law enforcement officials who can begin fighting addiction in new ways on a local level.
How Bad is the Opioid Epidemic?
Overdose death rates have escalated at an alarming rate over the last 20 years. Not only does this include heroin overdoses, but it also includes overdoses related to prescription opiates as well. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 44 people die each day as a result of prescription painkiller overdoses. Back in 1991, approximately 76 million prescription painkillers were prescribed, and that number almost tripled by 2013, and it continues to grow .
A common misconception is that people who are addicted to heroin are those who are homeless and living on the streets. The opioid epidemic has become so widespread that it’s affecting people in urban, suburban and rural areas as well. With the new bill that was passed, the White House is trying to get $1.1 billion approved to get more resources in order to help prevent opiate abuse as well as help those who are already addicted.
How can the Bill Help?
Back in 1971, President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs. The war on drugs was mainly focused on criminalizing those who are abusing drugs. Countless dollars have been spent on the War on Drugs, but the problem has only become worse. With this new bill, the money used to combat the drug problem in the United States will work towards helping people recover from addiction rather than being punished.
There will still be laws to punish people who distribute drugs, but the goal is to help provide treatment to those who suffer from addiction. In some areas of the United States, drug court systems have been implemented. These programs give people the option of getting treatment for their addiction rather than serving jail time and have seen quite a bit of success. According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), the United States is saving money, and those who graduate the drug programs have a 75% success rate of remaining arrest-free for at least two years .
The money allocated towards supporting this bill will go to a variety of different resources to fight the addiction problem in the country. There will be more money going towards research to help fight addiction. There will also be more programs created to help prevent people from abusing substances. The funding will go to different city and state law enforcement agencies so they can reverse the trend opiate overdoses. The agencies will also become better trained on how to help those who have become addicted. The hopes are that, as a nation, we can begin to see the addiction and overdose trends begin to decrease for the first time in years.