With the discussion of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, all other political news has taken the backseat or slipped under the radar. Fortunately, there is some positive news. The Senate recently released a bipartisan legislation that has provisions on stopping illegal drugs from crossing the border, creating inclusive recovery centers, and discovering new ways to treat children who are affected by the opioid epidemic. The fact that the Senate went past party divisions and united to pass this bill is extraordinary. Slightly sad to see how divided our political system is, but encouraging that an epidemic that has haunted our crisis for years is facing legal action.
This crisis didn’t come to us overnight. It began in the late 1990s when pharmaceutical companies assured the public that opioid pain relievers are not addictive. With this information, opioids were prescribed at greater rates. Only years later was it clear that these drugs, misused and plentiful in people’s medicine cabinets, were in fact addictive. While lives were lost over avid drug use, the numbers weren’t too horrifying until last year. Times magazine released a special report called “The Opioid Diaries”, which stated that in 2017, 64,000 Americans died of drug overdoses- that is more people killed in the Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars total. The United States Health and Human Services Department declared a public health crisis and announced a five-point strategy to combat this crisis. This legislation incorporated a bundle of plans that fuel federal funding to provide the level of care struggling Americans need and incorporate the five-point strategy proposed.
The signature of our President is one of the final touches on this bill that can make it possible. He tweeted his support for one portion of the bill in late August, specifically for the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Protection Act (STOP) that will require the United States Postal Service to be more vigilant. In June, the House of Representatives passed its own bill successfully and now is working with the Senate to edit their bills. The bill is expected to be sitting on the President’s desk at the end of the month.
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