WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) is supporting emergency funding legislation to address the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic that is devastating communities in New Mexico and across the country. The bill S.2423, introduced by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, would provide supplemental appropriations totaling $600 million for drug prevention and treatment programs.
"Prescription drug and heroin addiction is a public health crisis that's taken a devastating toll on families and communities across our state. More New Mexicans died in 2014 of drug overdoses than in any other year on record," said Sen. Heinrich. "We urgently need more resources for better prevention, treatment, recovery, and enforcement programs specifically designed to help people struggling with addiction and give local communities the tools they need to tackle this issue head on. Addiction is a disease that can happen to anyone, and it's a cycle that we've seen too frequently in New Mexico. By taking a comprehensive approach to combat this epidemic, we can ensure people have the opportunity to get on the road to recovery."
Senator Heinrich is also cosponsoring S.524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, a bill introduced by U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to 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. The bill also includes designating up to $80 million toward advancing treatment and recovery support services across the country.
A study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2014, the national drug poisoning deaths per capita was 14.68 per 100,000-in New Mexico it was 27.3 per 100,000. In 2014, there were approximately 547 people who died in New Mexico due to drug poisoning, including deaths from prescription opioids and heroin overuse. Between 2011-2013, New Mexico ranked second nationally for drug overdose deaths.
From 2002 to 2013, opioid-related deaths have quadrupled nationally according to the CDC. Drug overdose was the leading cause of injury death in 2013. Among people 25 to 64 years old, drug overdose caused more deaths than motor vehicle traffic crashes.
S. 2423 would provide additional emergency funding to the following federal programs:
Department of Justice
- Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program: $200 million increase to fund state and local programs including, law enforcement, prosecutions and court programs, drug treatment and enforcement programs, as well as prevention and education programs.
- COPS Anti-Heroin Task Force Grant: $10 million to assist state and local law enforcement with high per capita levels of primary treatment admission for heroin and opioids, conduct drug enforcement initiatives and investigations. This program targets resources to support police operations on the ground.
Department of Health and Human Services
- Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant: $225 million in additional funds to distribute to states to fund programs related to prevention, treatment, recovery support and other services. For many states, this is the primary source of federal programs to address the misuse of alcohol and drugs.
- Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention for States: $50 million to support the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's work on prescription drug monitoring programs, community or insurer and health system interventions and rapid response projects.
- Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund: $40 million for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to better coordinate and respond to the national heroin and opioid drug abuse crisis.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: $30 million for targeted research on drug addiction and efforts to disseminate the results to improve prevention and treatment.
- Strategic Prevention Framework: Partnership for the Success--$20 million to address underage drinking and prescription drug misuse and abuse among 12 to 25 year olds.
- Medication Assisted Treatment for Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction: $10 million will improve access in high risk communities to medication assisted treatment services for treating heroin and prescription opioids.
- Safe Schools/Healthy Students: $5 million to support school and community partnerships in efforts to create safe, drug-free and respectful environments for learning and to promote the behavioral health of children and youth.
- Recovery Community Services Program: $5 million to assist community organizations and develop organized statewide network for peer-to-peer recovery support including activities such as peer coaching, peer support groups, life skills workshops and peer-led housing and employment connector programs.
S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act 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.