Blaine’s Bulletin: Putting an End to the Opioid Epidemic
Washington, December 2, 2021
Tags: Health care
The pandemic created a wide array of problems that needed immediate attention like increased funding and resources for our medical community to keep our country as healthy as possible, helping our students keep up with school while learning remotely, and support for small businesses who were suffering the consequences of lockdowns. When I served on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, I repeatedly discussed the unintended consequences of the pandemic and nationwide shutdowns. Many Americans who deal with mental health and substance abuse issues did not have access to the resources they usually rely on and unfortunately, we saw a major spike in both of these.
On top of the isolation, lack of care and resources, and a general hold that was put on many people’s lives, the crisis at our southern border has greatly exacerbated our nation’s opioid and addiction epidemic. Mass illegal border crossings have allowed enormous amounts of the synthetic opioid - and extremely deadly substance - fentanyl into our country and our communities putting our nation at risk. To give you an idea of how deadly fentanyl actually is and how little it takes to become lethal, a 3-miligram dose would kill the average sized adult male. The Customs and Border Patrol agents work day in and day out to secure our southern border where so much of this fentanyl is entering our country. But drug smugglers are finding more and more ways to get across our border and until the Administration decides to take border security and the safety of the American people seriously, there is only so much these agents can do.
Tragically, accordingly to the CDC we have lost a record 100,000 American lives to overdose deaths this year. Almost 2/3 of these deaths can be attributed to illicit, deadly fentanyl that many substances are being mixed with and is pouring into our country via our border. It is becoming increasingly prevalent nationwide and is finding its way into communities that had not been touched by the opioid epidemic prior to fentanyl becoming so widespread.
The news of the historic number of lives lost to overdoses is incredibly disheartening, but I assure you I am doing everything I can to put an end to this epidemic that has touched so many families here in Missouri and across the country. Along with the desperate need to have a more secure southern border, I have introduced a bill that would create a long-term solution to the scheduling of fentanyl analogues and allows for the Secretary of Health and Human Services in conjunction with the Attorney General and Department of Justice to schedule fentanyl analogues as Schedule 1 narcotics. It’s hard to believe but the substance that has killed so many Americans has only been temporarily scheduled, which is set to expire this coming January. While getting bills to the House floor this term continues to be the most political and vitriolic process in history, I’m hopeful the Speaker can look past political lines and allow a vote on my bill for the greater good of the country.
Too many families have lost their loves ones to addiction. Rather than passing giant, partisan spending packages, we should be passing legislation that puts this devastating epidemic to an end.