WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the Weekly Republican Address, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) discusses the drug addiction epidemic and the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act. This bill "will help more Americans put their lives back together and help individuals achieve their God-given potential," said Sen. Portman. The Weekly Republican Address is available in both audio and video format. A full transcript of the address follows:
“Hi, I’m Rob Portman. I’m proud to represent Ohio in the United States Senate.
“I’m here to talk about an issue that many families are struggling with in my state and yours.
“It’s the struggle with drug addiction, a growing problem that has now become an epidemic.
“Heroin and prescription drug overdoses have now surpassed car accidents as the number one cause of injury-related deaths nationwide.
“Last year, 2,482 of my fellow Ohioans died from drug overdoses. On average, they say 129 Americans die every single day as a result of an overdose.
“And this epidemic does not discriminate. Zip codes don’t matter. It’s effecting our cities, suburban areas, and rural counties. Young or old, rich, middle class or poor, black, white, Hispanic or Asian. The grip of addiction affects all of us.
“On a recent visit to a firehouse in Hamilton, Ohio, a group of first responders told me that they now respond to more drug overdoses than fires.
“When I toured a hospital this month, the discussion quickly turned to the increasing number of emergency room visits caused by drug overdoses and the stress it inflicts on our healthcare system.
“How did we get to this point? For many people, it started with taking prescription painkillers, developing an addiction and then turning to what’s cheaper and more accessible: heroin.
“Over the past few years, I’ve spent a lot of time with people who are in recovery, talking about how they came under the grip of addiction and what has worked, or not worked, in their treatment and recovery.
“I’ve talked to family members who have lost brothers and sisters, sons and daughters.
“One of them was Tonda DaRe. Tonda lost her daughter Holly from a heroin overdose.
“Holly didn’t fit the stereotype people have. She was active in high school, and was selected for homecoming and prom court. She got engaged after high school, and had a promising life ahead of her.
“Then, to celebrate her 20th birthday, someone asked Holly if she wanted to try heroin. She was curious and experimented. And she became addicted.
“Tonda helped her daughter get treatment. Holly went to rehab and even gained a period of sobriety, but she relapsed.
“Addiction is a disease. A disease that devastates families. Heroin overpowered Holly and took her life at age 21.
“Tonda has channeled her grief as a mom into a group to help others in the hope that other daughters and sons will not follow a similar, heartbreaking path. This week, she joined me at a congressional hearing in Washington D.C., where she shared her story and helped put a national spotlight on this epidemic. You’ll find painfully similar stories in every state in this country and in almost every community. It is a national tragedy and it’s critically important that we fight it.
“The good news is we have a positive response – bipartisan legislation called CARA, the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act. It will help make a real difference for families and communities.
“We developed this comprehensive approach by relying on the experts in the field and those most affected.
“It targets prevention and education resources to prevent abuse before it starts;
“It devotes resources to evidence-based treatment and recovery programs;
“It helps first responders reverse overdoses to save lives; and
“It expands prescription drug take-back programs to get addictive pain pills off bathroom shelves and establishes monitoring to prevent over-prescribing of painkillers.
“This legislation is moving and that’s good. There is an urgency to this issue – Congress must act now to help repair our communities, our families and our country.
“CARA – this comprehensive approach – will help more Americans put their lives back together and help individuals achieve their God-given potential.
“If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, know that you are not alone. There is hope.
“Thank you for listening, and God bless.”
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