Bipartisan bill would provide incentives and resources designed to encourage states and local communities to pursue a full array of proven strategies to combat addiction

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With ever more Americans falling victim to drug addiction and overdoses from opiates, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and a bipartisan group of Senators today introduced legislation that could help turn the tide in the struggle against this epidemic. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2014, which Klobuchar introduced with Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), would provide a series of incentives and resources designed to encourage states and local communities to pursue a full array of proven strategies to combat addiction – not just one or two.

“Drug abuse is claiming lives and tearing families apart in Minnesota and across the country, and we can spare no effort to reverse this deadly trend,” Klobuchar said. “If we’re going to be successful in the fight to prevent abuse, we need to take a comprehensive approach that’s focused on expanding the use of proven tools in the fight against addiction. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation includes my provision to strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs across the country and will help ensure that communities have the resources they need to combat this epidemic.”

“In Rhode Island, more than 100 people have died from drug overdoses already this year,” said Whitehouse.  “This legislation identifies a series of specific steps that will help us combat addiction and support those in recovery, and provides the tools needed for states and local governments – in coordination with law enforcement, educators, and others – to take them.  It’s a comprehensive approach to a problem that demands our full attention.”

“We’ve learned that we can’t keep people from falling into the traps of addiction through a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach,” said Portman.  “In order to prevent drug abuse and better help the tens of thousands of Ohioans struggling with addiction, we need a comprehensive strategy that starts from the grassroots up.  This legislation builds on proven methods to enable law enforcement to respond to this heroin epidemic and supports long-term recovery by connecting prevention and education efforts with treatment programs.”

“We in Vermont, like in much of the country, have been grappling with the effects opioid addiction for over a decade.  We know that only a balanced approach – when embraced by the communities themselves – will get us ahead of addiction,” said Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  “I am proud to cosponsor the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. This legislation would put the right resources in the right hands by supporting evidence-based state and local public health initiatives, and it will help to end the misery opioid addiction inflicts on individuals, families, and our communities.”

“We’re facing a prescription opioid abuse and heroin addiction crisis in New Hampshire and across our nation,” said Ayotte. “This bipartisan legislation includes important steps to increase drug abuse prevention efforts, improve treatment for those struggling with addiction, ensure law enforcement has greater access to tools to fight drug abuse, and develop best practices for treatment, intervention, and pain management nationwide.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more Americans die every day from drug overdoses than from car accidents – an average of 110 people per day.  Moreover, the majority of those who need help with addiction issues are not receiving it.  Of the approximately 22.7 million Americans who needed treatment for substance use in 2013, only 2.5 million people received it, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2014 would:

  • 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 to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives. 
  • Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment.
  • Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of our children and adolescents.
  • Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and interventions program.  While we have medications that can help treat addiction, there is a critical need to get the training and resources necessary to expand treatment best practices throughout the country.
  • Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.

The legislation is supported by the National District Attorneys Association, the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD), Faces and Voices of Recovery, the National Council for Behavioral Health, and the Major County Sheriffs' Association, among others.