Fighting Opioid Abuse Takes All of Us


319px-Susan_Brooks,_official_portrait,_113th_CongressToday, more people are dying of drug overdoses than car accidents. And you, our local officials, are seeing the statistic become reality in your communities and states. But where does it begin?

Eighty percent of heroin addictions start with a legal pain medication.

I believe that the key to stemming the tide of heroin and opioid abuse, and drug overdose deaths, is to address the issue of over-prescribing pain medication in this country by increasing education and awareness among prescribers and medical providers about the problem. However, I know we can’t do it alone, and as a federal legislator, I know enough to know when I’m not the expert.

Legislation I’ve introduced would bring together every stakeholder involved in this debate, from former addicts and current chronic pain patients, to pharmacists and medical providers, and every federal agency involved in pain management or prescriptions, including the Department of Defense, to develop some guidelines that can be applied by every provider to eliminate unnecessary or excessive prescriptions. My legislation, H.R. 4641, would establish this task force, and require it to regularly review and update prescribing guidelines.

But this alone isn’t a silver bullet.

Millions of Americans are abusing prescription drugs every day, and still more are abusing illegal drugs like heroin. We must beef up our enforcement as a country and I believe we need to strengthen penalties for drug dealers. I also think we should support efforts to make overdose reversal drugs more widely available to first responders.

We must also change the way that we treat addiction and substance abuse. It is a disease and should be treated as such.  There is no one treatment program that will work for every patient – and as legislators, it’s our responsibility to recognize and allow for a variety of effective treatments with proven results in combating the disease of addiction.

Big picture, we must consider the other ripple effects that this crisis has in our communities – and protect against diseases commonly caused by intravenous drug use like HIV and Hepatitis C – as well as better understand how to help babies who are born addicted and children who are victims of this epidemic because of their parent’s addiction.

ALEC has an enormous role to play in this fight. Local partners are on the front lines of this epidemic, and as a member of Congress, I look to my district for guidance and feedback when considering proposals and programs to be implemented nationally.

It is going to take all of us to turn the tide of the heroin and opioid epidemic, and I’m looking forward to discussing the crisis, my legislative proposal, and the Congressional action likely to take place. More importantly, I’m hoping to hear from you about what you are seeing in your communities, and how you think the federal government can support your local efforts effectively. Thank you for the invitation to talk about this important topic, and I look forward to our conversation on April 20th.


Join Congresswoman Susan Brooks (IN-5) on a conference call to hear about her proposed policy reforms to fight the growing prescription drug and heroin abuse epidemic.

Date: Wednesday, April 20

Time: 1:30 PM ET

Speaker: Representative Susan Brooks (IN-5)

Rep. Brooks will discuss several areas of need critical to reducing the number of painkiller and heroin overdose deaths each year, prescription drug monitoring programs for law enforcement and patient awareness.

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