Heroin and Opioid Abuse

We Have A Problem But Congress Is Ignoring The Solutions

Recently, a 28-year-old coach in Wake County told me that he lost 2 friends to heroin overdoses over the last year. Google “opioid abuse in North Carolina,” and you will read about the epidemic of prescription drugs and heroin abuse in our state.

An April report by Castlight Health found that 32 percent of total opioid prescriptions are being abused. Cited by The Wall Street Journal and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, this is becoming a bigger worry for employers that subsidize prescription drug coverage. This report also lists the top 25 worst cities in the US for opioid abuse. North Carolina appears 4 times on that list. The #1 worst city in America for opioid abuse according to the study was Wilmington. Hickory was the 5th, followed by Jacksonville at 12th and Fayetteville at 18th.

On February 9, 2016 the President presented his FY 2017 Budget to Congress. In his budget, there is a proposal for $1.1 billion in new money to address the epidemic in the US. Governing points out that this is, “…new spending to try to reduce opioid abuse through direct spending in states for strengthening drug monitoring programs, expanding access to treatment and broadening the use of drugs that counteract overdoses.

Congress has not passed any of the 12 parts of the spending bill. That means they will likely rely on a Continuing Resolution (CR) - a short-term, temporary measure to prevent another government shutdown. Shaun Donovan, the Office of Management & Budget Director is very concerned that the GOP is talking about a long-term CR. He told Federal News Radio, “They ought to focus on getting their job done….”

It is well past time for Congress to do their job, well past time for Congress to address the Heroin and Opioid epidemic, and well past time that we elect Congressional members who are not beholden to the drug industries. North Carolina and our Nation deserves better than this!