Opioid Addiction Epidemic

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The opioid epidemic is cutting lives short, tearing families apart, and draining the resources our law enforcement and health care professionals have to treat those battling addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half a million Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses between 2000 and 2014. In 2014 alone, 1,289 people in Massachusetts died of a drug overdose. Yet, despite these staggering numbers, the crisis is getting worse. Drug overdose deaths have increased 137 percent since 2010, with opioid related overdose deaths increasing by 200 percent. This crisis touches almost every community in America, and we must do more to address it.

Addiction is a complex disease with no quick or easy solution. Too often, we have treated the opioid epidemic as simply a law enforcement issue. The reality is much more complicated than that. Progress will require a coordinated effort from elected leaders at all levels of government, the medical community, law enforcement, the nonprofit sector, and community partners. I am encouraged by the growing attention to this crisis, and by the action our state and local leaders are taking to combat the epidemic here in the Commonwealth. We need to seize on this growing consensus for action and ensure that our efforts result in real progress for those suffering from addiction, their families, and our communities.

In Washington, as a member of the Bipartisan Taskforce to Combat the Heroin Epidemic, I am fighting for resources for medical and law enforcement professionals who are thinking creatively about how to address the problem. Here in the Commonwealth, I am collaborating with our state legislators and supporting community leaders who are taking bold action on the ground.

Ending the opioid epidemic requires that we prevent addiction before it starts and ensure that those battling addiction have access to the treatment resources they need. We must do everything we can to end the stigma and criminalization of this disease and ensure we are not punishing those who are in need of treatment. I am committed to working with Republicans and Democrats in Congress, health and law enforcement professionals, and civic and community leaders in the 6th District and across the Commonwealth to defeat the opioid epidemic. I welcome your input as we work together to end this devastating disease.

 

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