WASHINGTON – Today, as the opioid crisis in Connecticut continues to grow, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, voted for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). CARA reauthorizes programs to combat opioid abuse and increases access to naloxone, a drug that stops overdoses.
Murphy also called on Congress to take further action to increase funding for addiction programs and expand access to specialized prescription drug and heroin addiction medication-assisted treatment by passing The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment (TREAT) Act. Yesterday, Murphy urged the HELP Committee to mark up the TREAT Act together with his Mental Health Reform Act. The TREAT Act would increase the number of patients who have access to specialized treatment for prescription drug and heroin addiction, such as buprenorphine (also called Suboxone when it’s paired with Naloxone), by expanding the ability of addiction medical specialists and other trained medical professionals to provide life-saving medication-assisted therapies. Murphy also supported an amendment that would allocate $600 million to fund programs to combat heroin and prescription drug abuse.
“I voted to support CARA today because Congress needs to take a first step toward stopping the devastating tidal wave of addiction, overdoses, and deaths plaguing our nation right now,” said Murphy. “But Congress needs to do much more than simply pass a bill creating more unfunded programs. The growing opioid and heroin epidemic in Connecticut is one of the worst public health and safety crises our state has ever faced. I’ve heard from the patients, families, and treatment providers in our state who are faced with addiction on a day-to-day basis, and their message is clear: they need more funding and better access to the prevention and treatment programs that save lives. I won’t let up until Congress funds these programs and until we remove the unnecessary restrictions that prevent far too many people from getting the life-saving medication they need.”
Deaths caused by drug overdoses have skyrocketed in Connecticut. In 2015, more than 720 Connecticut residents died from drug overdoses, including 415 heroin-related deaths.