Leahy’s fight against opioids
Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy led the fight against the opioid epidemic in another Senate-passed appropriations bill, securing $3 billion in new funding to address the crisis. The bill also contains Senator Leahy-authored legislation to establish three “Rural Centers of Excellence on Substance Use Disorders” and directs $10 million to a new research program in the Department of Defense to study alternatives to opioids for chronic pain management.
In 2017, 72,000 people –– a 10 percent increase over 2016 –– lost their lives to drug overdoses and the opioid epidemic. Opioid abuse is one of the leading causes of unnatural death in Vermont. In 2017, there were 101 opioid related deaths, far more than traffic deaths on Vermont roads or gun deaths in Vermont.
Senator Leahy said: “Marcelle and I hear often from Vermonters recovering from opioid abuse. Every Vermonter, and every American, has experienced the opioid crisis firsthand. Whether it is a friend, a family member or a loved one, no one has escaped the grips of this scourge. There is still more we can and need to do to help those who are trying to pull themselves out of addiction and turn their lives around, but this is a good solid start on real solutions.”
Senator Leahy was a lead negotiator in the bipartisan budget agreement reached in February, which set aside $6 billion in new funding over two years to fund the fight against opioid and mental health crises. The $3 billion included in the appropriations package was the second tranche of funding, making a historic investment in the fight against the opioid epidemic.
Drawing on the groundbreaking work being done at the University of Vermont and the UVM Medical Center to address opioid addiction in rural America, Senator Leahy included in the package funding to establish three “Rural Centers of Excellence on Substance Use Disorders” around the country.
Based at academic universities in states where more than 60 percent of the population lives in rural communities, the centers would focus on researching science-based, community approaches to the opioid crisis and implementing those approaches around the country by providing scientific and technical assistance.
More information is available here: https://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/leahy-guides-creation-of-national-centers-to-address-rural-addiction-through-the-senate-appropriations-committee.
Senator Leahy also included $10 million to establish a new research program in the Department of Defense to study alternatives to opioids for chronic pain management. Despite a number of programs meant to help the service community understand and address the potentially harmful effects of long-term opioid abuse, the Department of Defense does not have a comprehensive strategy to research and understand alternatives to opioids to manage chronic pain. Because of this, members of the military rely on these potentially dangerous and highly addictive drugs, which has had severe consequences. More information is available here: https://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/0602818dodopioidsrelease. –– from Senator Leahy’s office.