WASHINGTON — The opioid epidemic sweeping our nation has left hardly anyone untouched.
Whether it’s a friend or a family member, nearly every American knows someone whose life has been tragically altered by this pervasive problem. In fact, in 2016, significantly more people died from drug abuse than from car accidents. The simple truth is we are in the midst of a profound national crisis.
All too often, I hear stories of parents losing their sons or daughters, spouses losing their partners and children losing their moms and dads to addiction. These stories are sadly becoming more commonplace, hitting every region, state and corner of our country. However, we cannot accept this trajectory, and we won’t stand by idly.
This week, Congress set out to tackle the opioid epidemic, passing more than 35 bills addressing nearly every aspect, cause and ramification of this crisis. This is the largest federal response to a drug crisis ever, and this is an issue that House Republicans are taking extremely seriously. These measures include improving and expanding access to treatment and recovery services, as well as establishing comprehensive opioid recovery centers that specialize in this treatment.
It’s imperative, however, that we do all that we can to prevent people from becoming addicted to opioids in the first place.
This is not simply a problem we can throw money at, it will involve real change from the ground up to prevent these tragedies before they occur. By encouraging non-addictive opioid alternatives and strengthening drug-monitoring programs, we will work to stop addiction in its tracks.
Furthermore, ensuring that our law enforcement officers have the tools they need to remove dangerous drugs from our streets and intercept illicit opioids coming through international mail facilities before they reach our communities is vital to preventing the exacerbation of these existing problems. You can rest assured that law enforcement at every level and stage will be cracking down on those selling and transporting these dangerous drugs.
Finally, we must tackle ever-changing synthetic drugs, like fentanyl, and I’m glad that President Donald Trump has also taken initiative to combat this widespread problem. Last October, the president declared a nationwide public health emergency to mobilize the entirety of the federal government and cut through the bureaucratic red tape to ensure that every department can engage efficiently and effectively to solve this evolving crisis.
These key reforms will allow greater cooperation and communication between doctors, law enforcement, and lawmakers to address the tangible problems facing our communities and combat this spiraling addiction crisis in whatever way we can.
The old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” rings true, and I’m proud that Congress has taken the first step not only to curb this epidemic, but to end it entirely.
Jody Hice, a Republican from Greensboro, represents Georgia’s 10th District in Congress. Online: hice.house.gov.