The legislation is expected to go to the full House of Representatives next week.
Washington DC (KM). Sixth District Congressman David Trone (D) is joining New Jersey Representative Andy Kim (D) in supporting a bill to fund opioid addiction programs. The legislation would set aside $500-million to pay for the development of treatment programs for those who are suffering from addictions.
“I’m really excited about this bill,” Trone says. “It $500-million. It’s going to make a big difference to get at the root cause of opioids , and also developing treatment models.”
The bill passed the House Appropriations Committee and is expected to be come before the full House of Representatives next week.
If passed, the legislation, called Helping to End Addictions Long Term (HEAL), would appropriate $250-million each to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse to fund research to develop and test treatment models for those struggling with opioid and addiction issues.
Trone says not all treatments for addictions involve taking medications to counteract the affects of addictions, such as NARCAN. He says a number of addicts have mental health issues. “Folks that suffer addictions—probably 60% to 70% as the best experts guess– they’re also suffering depression, anxiety, trauma; and these are totally connected,” he says.
Trone says another bill dealing with mental health issues is expected to be \introduced in the future.
As he’s traveled around the 6th District, Trone says many constituents list the opioid crisis as their number-one issue. “There’s virtually not a group that I speak in front of, anywhere in Frederick County, out west and even down in Montgomery County, doesn’t have their own story about a friend, a relative, a co-worker that’s lost somebody to opioids,” he says.
Despite the dire nature of this problem, Trone says he remain optimistic the nation can turn the corner. “It’s going to get addressed. There’s going to be deaths, of course. But we can’t quit. We have to be focused. We have to be relentless. And we’re going to be that. We’re going to save tens and tens of thousands of lives every year. We’re going to get ahead of this. But right, we’re not ahead of this,” he says.
Since he took office in January, 2019, Trone has been working on the opioid problem with the Freshmen Working Group on Addiction, which has 63 Congress members from 31 states. Trone is also passionate about this issue because he lost a nephew to fentanyl in 2016.
By Kevin McManus