EDITORIAL: Connecticut helps inspire Senate’s latest response to opioid crisis

EDITORIAL: Connecticut helps inspire Senate’s latest response to opioid crisis

In a rare show of solidarity, Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Washington came together recently to pass the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018.

This important bill introduces dozens of new policies and grant programs to combat the nation’s opioid crisis.

Included in the legislation is Connecticut senator Chris Murphy’s Recovery COACH Act, which the Democrat co-authored with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican.

Inspired by Connecticut, the Recovery COACH Act will provide states with grants to ensure that individuals with substance use disorder have access to specifically trained coaches who can serve as a mentor, provide insight and encouragement, support for families and help patients navigate treatment options.

Recovery coaches are being used in several emergency rooms across our state, including at MidState Medical Center in Meriden.

“People in Connecticut know this tidal wave addiction is only getting worse. I’m proud that the Senate included my bill to follow Connecticut’s lead and utilize recovery coaches to help people overcome addiction,” said Murphy.

According to the state's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Connecticut saw a 10 percent increase in fatal overdoses in 2017, driven by a nearly 40 percent rise in those attributed to fentanyl, a synthetic drug much stronger than heroin.

And the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that since 1999 deaths from prescription opioids — drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone — have quadrupled.

And each day, 44 people in the U.S. die from overdose of prescription drugs, with painkillers topping the list.

Meanwhile, the use of heroin — another opioid — is on the rise, as are heroin-related overdose deaths.

Thankfully, it appears that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle grasp the severity of our nation’s opioid problem.

The Opioid Crisis Response Act passed the Senate by a vote of 99-1 and now heads to the House of Representatives.

House members should follow the Senate’s lead and move this bill closer to the president’s desk.

Opioid addiction is a public health emergency. We applaud Senator Murphy and all lawmakers who are acting boldly to confront this scourge.

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