WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, on Friday called on Congress to take immediate action to combat the heroin and prescription drug crisis in the wake of the U.S. Surgeon General’s new report “Facing Addiction in America.” Murphy called on colleagues in Congress to pass his bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act along with increased funding for critical addiction programs. Murphy supported the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) signed into law this year, and has been a leader in calling for additional resources for federal programs that treat and prevent opioid use and addiction.
“This Surgeon General report on addiction in America could not have come at a more critical time. I’ve gotten to know people in Connecticut who are struggling with addiction and have worked with doctors, and the things I learned from them are echoed in this report. We need to beat back the stigma surrounding addiction – just like we did with cancer and AIDS – because you can’t fight something this serious in the shadows,” said Murphy.
“We’re in the middle of a crisis, and Washington needs to get off the sidelines. Congress needs to pass my bipartisan mental health bill and new funding for treatment and recovery programs this year before the holidays. People in Connecticut and all over the country are counting on us to do something. This is our chance,” Murphy added.
This week’s report concludes that addiction and substance use must be approached as public health issues and confronted with “evidence-based prevention, treatment and recovery strategies.” Additionally, according to the executive summary, “Making this change will require a major cultural shift in the way we think about, talk about, look at, and act toward people with substance use disorders. Negative attitudes and ways of talking about substance misuse and substance use disorders can be entrenched, but it is possible to change social attitudes…By coming together as a society with the resolve to do so, it is similarly possible to change attitudes toward substance misuse and substance use disorders.”
Murphy is co-author of the bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act, which will expand federal resources and improve coordination for mental health and substance abuse treatment programs. Murphy is also a cosponsor of the TREAT Act, which would expand access to medication-assisted treatment. Earlier this year, Murphy spent a “Day in the Life” meeting with patients, health professionals, law enforcement, and advocates around Connecticut to learn firsthand how he can improve federal efforts to combat Connecticut’s addiction crisis and save lives. In Connecticut, deaths caused by drug overdoses have skyrocketed. In 2015, 729 Connecticut residents died from drug overdoses, including 415 heroin-related deaths.