In Congress, we’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the last several weeks on legislation designed to break the hold that opioids have on this country.

You’ve seen the news stories and you probably know someone who’s been affected by it in some way - the scourge of opioid addiction. Overcoming this crisis is proving to be far more difficult than anyone expected. Did you know that more than 2 million Americans will suffer from addiction to opioids in 2018? Or that 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids EVERY DAY?

In Congress, we’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the last several weeks on legislation designed to break the hold that opioids have on this country. While I don’t think our legislative fixes are going to completely solve the issue, I do believe that it will help.

The bills I’ve helped pass to fight the opioid epidemic are focused on four things: treatment and recovery, prevention, protecting communities and fighting fentanyl.

Those addicted need treatment. Our efforts will improve and expand access to treatment and recovery services, provide incentives for enhanced care, coordination, and innovation and establish comprehensive opioid recovery centers.

However, it’s important that we prevent opioid abuse in the first place so treatment of an addiction isn’t necessary. That’s why we’ve passed legislation to encourage non-addictive opioid alternatives to treat pain, identify and help at-risk patients and families, and address high opioid prescribing rates.

Across North Missouri, our law enforcement and social service agencies have sprung into action. Programs such as the City of Hannibal’s Bringing the HEET Initiative (Heroin Education Enforcement Treatment) are being implemented to protect our communities. We want to partner with these agencies by giving law enforcement tools to get dangerous drugs out of our communities, better intercepting illicit opioids at international mail facilities and improving access to federal resources for local communities.

Finally, the synthetic drug known as fentanyl has created the bulk of the problems. Heroin laced with fentanyl is literally killing people the first time they use it. And it’s being trafficked throughout our communities. We’ve got to eliminate it. Our opioid legislation better tackles ever-changing synthetic drugs, cracks down on foreign shipments of illicit drugs, and provides grants for local communities to combat fentanyl.

The opioid epidemic is ripping apart families and communities. Too many lives have been taken or ruined as a result. I believe this is a serious issue and I’m glad we are taking important steps to help our local communities deal with this crisis.