WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKBN) – U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, D-Ohio, is hoping to make a dent in Ohio’s heroin epidemic with legislation to address opiod addiction.
A Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Wednesday on the heroin bill, co-authored by Portman and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island. The bill entitled, “Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA),” would provide incentives and resources to encourage states and local communities to pursue multiple strategies to combat addiction.
The goals of CARA are to:
- Expand prevention and educational efforts, particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers and aging populations, to prevent the abuse of opioids and heroin and to promote treatment and recovery.
- Expand the availability of naloxone (Narcan) to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to reverse overdoses and save lives.
- Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by providing evidence-based treatment.
- Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of children.
- Launch an evidence-based 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.
The Senate Judiciary Committee discussed how easy it is for people to get harder drugs, and how more people are dying at the hands of heroin.
“We’ve seen it across the country,” said Portman. “People can break this grip of addiction and get into treatment and recovery. It’s hard. They need our help.”
Portman said only 1 out of 10 Ohioans goes into these treatment programs of their own free will, so his goal is to improve the treatment and recovery process.
“I think this hearing will be very effective in helping bring awareness to the severity of the problem, and we’ve heard it already this morning,” he testified. “But I think it’s just as important that we talk this morning about the reasons for hope, that there are alternatives out there; there are ways to address this. There are ways we can make progress in combating this epidemic, and lives can be saved.”