Columns

Blaine's Bulletin: Tackling the Opioid Crisis

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Washington, June 22, 2018 | comments

Opioid overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50, with 115 people dying each day. Here in Missouri 908 people lost their lives to opioids in 2016. Chances are, whether we know it or not, we are all connected to a person who is struggling with addiction, and it is tearing families apart.

With a renewed focus on this crippling epidemic, my colleagues and I are fighting back. My colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have advanced 57 bills to be voted on by the full House of Representatives. Over the past two weeks, the House has passed dozens of bipartisan bills to tackle the opioid crisis through treatment and recovery, prevention, protecting communities, and fighting fentanyl.

One bill is the Transitional Housing for Recovery in Viable Environments (THRIVE) Act, sponsored by my House Financial Services Committee colleague, Congressman Andy Barr (KY). The THRIVE Act was inspired by successful non-profit organizations in Congressman Barr’s district that provide transitional housing to help those in recovery. By providing transitional housing, recovering addicts will receive assistance to maintain their sobriety while also gaining valuable skills. These Americans would then be on the right track to obtain employment and transition back into society.

Congressman Barr’s bill creates a pilot program which would allocate vouchers to transitional housing non-profits with a track record of success in recovery and life skills training. Vouchers will not be administered through public housing authorities, but will be given directly to qualified non-profits in areas of our nation that have been hardest hit by the opioid crisis.

I was proud to support the THRIVE Act and provide critical help to Americans in recovery, but our work is not yet done. We have passed numerous bills that address everything from prevention education to alternative treatments to better tools for law enforcement.

We have a responsibility to get the opioid crisis under control, and I will continue to fight until we have a solution. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to quickly act on these bills, and I hope patients, doctors, first responders, and concerned citizens will keep sharing your stories and solutions with us.  Thousands of lives are at risk, so we absolutely must get this right.  

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