Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse today applauded the
significant federal investment to combat the opioid addiction crisis included
in a tentative deal to fund the federal government. The budget proposal
announced this afternoon includes an agreement to provide $6 billion in federal
funding for programs to stem the addiction epidemic. Whitehouse is a lead
author of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), sweeping
bipartisan legislation designed to curb the public health crisis and save
lives, which was signed into law in 2016.
“This proposal is a good next step to bolster
the addiction prevention and recovery programs that are needed to save lives in
states gripped by this public health crisis,” said Whitehouse. “Rhode
Island is a small, close-knit place and the effects of addiction are felt in
every corner of our state. Families grappling with addiction every day
should not have to wait any longer for Congress to fund the programs we have
put in place to prevent opioid addiction and support those on the long, noble
path of recovery.”
Whitehouse has repeatedly called for adequate funding to
address the crisis, as billions of dollars are needed for prevention,
treatment, and recovery programs. Last month, Whitehouse called for an
investigation into the Trump Administration’s failure to marshal resources to fight the opioid epidemic since
declaring it a public health emergency.
CARA established a range of federal policies,
including programs to increase education on drug use, expand
medication-assisted treatment, improve prescription drug monitoring programs,
and promote comprehensive state responses to the opioid crisis. As a
result of the legislation, Rhode Island has received $3 million over three
years to create ten Centers of Excellence for Opioid Use Disorders. The
Centers provide rapid access to treatment and comprehensive services for people
struggling with opioid addiction.
In 2016, 336 Rhode Islanders died of
accidental drug overdoses, according to the Department of Health. The
state saw an 8 percent decrease in opioid overdose deaths in the first eight
months of 2017, compared to the same period the previous year.