July 27, 2017

Luján Introduces Bill to Provide Additional Funds for Opioid Treatment & Prevention

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) today introduced legislation, the Opioid and Heroin Abuse Crisis Investment Act, to extend funding to combat the growing public health crisis of opioid-related addiction and deaths. Last year, Luján was instrumental in securing $1 billion dollars in funding for two years ($500 million per year) to bolster state efforts to respond to the opioid crisis. But Luján says two years will not be enough time to turn the tide against this epidemic in many communities.

In 2016, overdose deaths topped 59,000 – rising at the largest annual jump ever recorded. All evidence points to the trend continuing in 2017. Heroin deaths rose 23 percent, to 12,989, higher than the number of gun homicides. Deaths from synthetic opioids rose 73 percent, and prescription painkillers had the highest toll - abuse of drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin killed 17,536 in 2016.

Luján’s latest bill extends the current funding stream, and will provide a total of $2.5 billion dollars over five years in the form of a block grant. These grants will be provided to each state to support local efforts to provide access to treatment, bolster substance abuse prevention programs, and expand evidence-based initiatives that will help address this deadly epidemic.

“Funding for opioid prevention and treatment programs is essential, and every dollar counts when it comes to New Mexico’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and prevent more lives from being lost,” Luján said.  “The sad fact remains that much more must be done if we are going to ensure that all those who want help can get help.”

Lujan said that in order to combat this epidemic, we need a combined and focused federal/state effort to implement measures that offer sustained treatment and monitor the outcomes of those prevention and treatment services.

“The opioid crisis continues to have a devastating impact in States across the country.  Recent federal investments to address the problem represent a critical step in our work to end this epidemic.  This important legislation sustains these investments to ensure we expand access to lifesaving substance use disorder treatment, prevention, recovery services,” said Robert Morrison, Executive Director and Director Legislative Affairs for the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors