Whitehouse, Ayotte, Portman, Klobuchar Lead Colleagues in Urging Full Funding for Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Programs

Washington, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Kelly Ayotte
(R-NH), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) led a bipartisan group of
Senators in urging appropriators to provide full funding for substance abuse
prevention, treatment and recovery programs like the ones authorized by the
bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) that
passed«>
the Senate last week.

«While substance use disorders are treatable diseases of the brain, only about ten
percent of those who need treatment are actually able to receive it. In light of
this knowledge and the troubling aforementioned statistics, we write to express our
strong support for funding in the fiscal year (FY) 2017 Labor, Health and Human
Services and Education and Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bills for
programs that would support the comprehensive and integrated strategies to address
opioid abuse included in CARA. This bipartisan legislation was developed over the
past two and a half years through a cooperative process involving key national
stakeholders in the public health, law enforcement, criminal justice, and drug
policy fields, and is designed to fight prescription opioid abuse and heroin use
holistically – from expanding prevention to supporting recovery,» wrote the
Senators.

They continued, «As you begin consideration of the FY 2017 appropriations bills, we
urge you to provide full funding for the provisions included in CARA, which would
provide the resources and incentives necessary for states and local governments to
expand treatment, prevention, and recovery efforts for the millions of Americans who
are affected by substance use disorders.»
The letter was also signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker
(D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey
(D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Dick
Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand
(D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Angus King (I-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joe Manchin
(D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chuck Schumer
(D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall
(D-NM), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Chairmen Cochran, Blunt, and Shelby, Vice Chairwoman Mikulski, and Ranking
Member Murray:

As you are aware, heroin use and prescription opioid abuse are having devastating
effects on public health and safety across the United States. According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdoses now surpass
automobile accidents as the leading cause of injury-related death for Americans ages
25 to 64. Therefore, we write to request that you appropriate the necessary funding
to address the opioid abuse epidemic in a comprehensive manner, along the lines of
the initiatives called for under the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which
focus on prevention, treatment, recovery, and support for law enforcement and first
responders.

Every day, more than 129 Americans die as a result of drug overdose – and over half
of these drug overdoses are related to prescription drugs. Behind these numbers are
real people who have been severely affected by the nationwide opioid abuse epidemic
and its consequences-loved ones whose lives were lost, individuals who are
struggling to achieve and sustain recovery, law enforcement and first responders who
are increasingly encountering overdoses, and communities that have been turned
upside down by substance abuse. That is why we were pleased to see the United
States Senate recently take a positive step towards addressing this crisis in a
comprehensive manner. Through the passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and
Recovery Act (CARA, S. 524), the Senate has approved the authorization of at least
$80 million to fund prevention, treatment, recovery, and first responder initiatives
to combat substance abuse.

While substance use disorders are treatable diseases of the brain, only about ten
percent of those who need treatment are actually able to receive it. In light of
this knowledge and the troubling aforementioned statistics, we write to express our
strong support for funding in the fiscal year (FY) 2017 Labor, Health and Human
Services and Education and Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bills for
programs that would support the comprehensive and integrated strategies to address
opioid abuse included in CARA. This bipartisan legislation was developed over the
past two and a half years through a cooperative process involving key national
stakeholders in the public health, law enforcement, criminal justice, and drug
policy fields, and is designed to fight prescription opioid abuse and heroin use
holistically – from expanding prevention to supporting recovery.

Among other objectives, CARA would:

* Expand prevention and educational efforts, including dissemination of best
practices, to prevent prescription opioid abuse and the use of heroin, as well as
abuse of the powerful analgesic fentanyl.

* Expand the availability of opioid overdose reversal drugs to law
enforcement agencies and other first responders.

* Expand resources to promptly identify and treat individuals suffering from
substance use disorders in the criminal justice system.

* Encourage additional drug disposal sites for unwanted prescription
medications, thereby keeping them out of the hands of children and adolescents.

* Launch an evidence-based prescription opioid and heroin treatment and
intervention program to expand best practices throughout the country.

* Launch a medication assisted treatment and intervention demonstration
program.

* Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor
and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access
services.

* Reauthorize treatment programs for pregnant and postpartum women, and
allow women in non-residential facilities and those who have come into contact with
the criminal justice system access to these services.

* Reauthorize important task forces to combat heroin and methamphetamine abuse.

* As you begin consideration of the FY 2017 appropriations bills, we urge
you to provide full funding for the provisions included in CARA, which would provide
the resources and incentives necessary for states and local governments to expand
treatment, prevention, and recovery efforts for the millions of Americans who are
affected by substance use disorders.

We also ask that you ensure adequate funding for CDC’s prescription drug
surveillance and monitoring activities and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for
Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction program. Additionally, since we know that
MAT should be an important component in treating those struggling with opioid use
disorders in the criminal justice system, we urge you to continue your support for
the Medication-Assisted Treatment Pilot Program at the Bureau of Prisons.

Only through a comprehensive approach that leverages evidence-based initiatives in
law enforcement, treatment, support for recovery, and prescribing practices for pain
management, can we stem the current skyrocketing numbers of heroin and prescription
opioid overdoses and deaths.