Opioid addiction knows no boundaries. Age, income, education – there are no real criteria for those who become addicted. Right now, many communities in Virginia and across the country are in the midst of a drug epidemic fueled by opioids, like heroin and fentanyl. They’re cheap and easy to come by, and that makes them all the more dangerous.
More than 91 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose. These drugs are destroying lives, families, and communities. Just a few days ago, I met with a mother whose daughter is an opioid addict. She shared with me her heartfelt concern for her daughter who is now living on the street. We also talked more about how this problem has grown in Roanoke and throughout the region. The sad truth is that many of us have heard these stories. Lives have been taken far too early and bright futures wasted away. For every person who has died as a result of opioids or remain hooked on these drugs, many others are impacted by their addiction.
The opioid epidemic calls for action at all levels of government and civic life to protect our citizens. Congress has already taken decisive action to provide tools to combat addiction by passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act last year. This new law, which I was proud to help negotiate, established a streamlined, comprehensive opioid abuse grant program that encompasses a variety of new and existing programs, such as vital training and resources for first responders and law enforcement, criminal investigations for the unlawful distribution of opioids, drug and other alternative treatment courts, and residential substance abuse treatment.
Additionally, last month the House Judiciary Committee, which I chair, passed legislation to help get dangerous synthetic drugs out of the hands of criminals by stopping their unlawful importation and distribution and giving law enforcement effective tools to help keep them off the streets. President Trump has also helped build greater public awareness of this issue by keeping it in the national spotlight and creating the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis earlier this year.
There is no quick and easy solution to wiping out this epidemic. It requires states, the federal government, and community groups to work together. The way forward must be a multi-pronged approach to combating drug abuse, with enforcement, prevention, education, and treatment as key components. I will continue to work with folks in Sixth District communities as well as lawmakers in Congress to advance solutions that will provide more tools to help addicts reclaim and rebuild their lives, stop drug traffickers, and make our communities safer. Instead of stories of heartbreak, let’s make them stories of recovery and hope. Our neighbors, friends, and loved ones need our help.
Congressman Bob Goodlatte