U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) spoke on the Senate floor about the need to fight against the opioid abuse epidemic during consideration of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.
Arkansas is one of 12 states with more painkiller prescriptions than people according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Boozman said on the Senate floor.
“Arkansas has implemented measures to combat this problem by decreasing the availability of prescription drugs and properly disposing of expired and unneeded medication through the Arkansas Take Back program,” Boozman said in the speech.
The Senate is considering the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, legislation to help give communities the ability to combat the growing opioid epidemic in Arkansas and across the country by expanding prevention efforts, supporting law enforcement, combating overdoses and expanding access to treatment.
Boozman highlighted the need to combat opioid abuse in a video posted on his Facebook page on Monday that features Benton Police Chief Kirk Lane.
The following are Boozman’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Mr. President, Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the country. It’s a problem that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies as an epidemic.
The availability of prescription painkillers is a leading factor in the increase of opioid abuse.
Since 1999, opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled nationwide.
Unfortunately, my home state of Arkansas is not immune to this problem. CDC data shows that it’s one of 12 states with more painkiller prescriptions than people.
Benton, Arkansas Police Chief Kirk Lane has seen the impact in his community.
“A lot of people become addicted very innocently and can’t find a way back,” he said during a recent visit to my office.
Placing prescription drugs in the medicine cabinet for safe keeping is no longer the best option because 70 percent of Americans misusing painkillers are getting them from friends and family.
Arkansas has implemented measures to combat this problem by decreasing the availability of prescription drugs and properly disposing of expired and unneeded medication through the Arkansas Take Back program.
This is an important step that has resulted in the removal of more than 72 tons of unneeded medication from homes in the state.
Congress has taken action to fight this epidemic.
As a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee I’ve pushed the Department of Veterans Affairs to reform its culture of prescription. Nationwide pharmacies have a system in place to prevent over filling prescriptions. It’s time for VA to adopt a similar system.
I pressured the Drug Enforcement Administration to reform its policy to allow clinics and pharmacies to serve as drop-off sites for the collection of unused or unwanted prescription drugs.
Last year we passed legislation to improve the prevention of treatment of opioid abuse by pregnant women and care for newborns affected by this abuse. This bill was signed into law.
Congress approved more than 400 million dollars in funding to address the opioid epidemic this fiscal year. That’s an increase of more than a one hundred million dollars from the previous year.
Calls for additional funds for this legislation are premature. We need to see the progress and results made with the current funding.
We must continue our commitment to the fighting this epidemic and providing our communities with the tools they need to improve response to addiction and promote treatment and recovery.
That’s why we need to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.
This bill can help give communities the ability to combat the growing opioid epidemic in Arkansas and across the country by expanding prevention efforts, supporting law enforcement, combating overdoses and expanding access to treatment.
I’ve heard from many Arkansans who support this bill.
It has the support of many Arkansans in addition to a wide range of organizations that represent law enforcement officials, drug treatment providers and health care professionals.
This speaks to the comprehensive approach we are taking to fight this epidemic.
It also authorizes the Attorney General to award grants to Veterans Treatment Courts.
These courts are critical in helping our veterans break the cycle of addiction and turning their lives around.
Prescription drug abuse is a widespread problem that impacts all ages and populations of Americans. I’m committed to providing Arkansas communities the resources they need to fight this epidemic.