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Portman Urges Action On Heroin, Opiate Problems

By Mike Ward

April 10, 2014

 

The growing problem with heroin abuse in Ohio is prompting a new call to action from one of Ohio's U.S. senators.

Senator Rob Portman says he's sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder about the heroin epidemic.

"And I say epidemic, knowing that word is maybe overused sometimes," Senator Portman told reporters in a Thursday conference call, "but we've got a huge problem in Ohio and around the country now, on heroin, heroin overdoses, use of heroin."

Senator Portman says the letter doesn't just talk about heroin abuse.

"This letter is focused on that and prescription opiates because they are connected," Portman says. "A lot of folks who were hooked on prescription drugs are now hooked on heroin, and it's growing."

Portman and Senator Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, were the primary authors of the letter. Ohio's other U.S. senator, Sherrod Brown, was one of 14 Senate co-signers.

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(News release, Sen. Rob Portman's office)

Portman and Tom Udall Urge Attorney General Holder to Aggressively Address Heroin Epidemic

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) urged Attorney General Eric Holder to address addiction to prescription opioids and heroin head on by drawing on the many evidenced-based strategies that are being successfully implemented in the states. Prescription opioid and heroin addiction are both expressions of the same disease that drives a wide range of criminal activities and public health consequences. As such, the Senators suggested that we must treat addiction with approaches that leverage the best criminal justice and public health practices currently available. A comprehensive approach to the twin epidemics of opioid and heroin addiction should include prevention and education, law enforcement, overdose prevention, and addiction treatment.

The letter was also signed by Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Bernie Sanders (I -Vt.), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

"Addiction to prescription opioids and heroin has become one of our nation's most challenging public health issues, affecting our neighborhoods and communities in ways far worse than anyone might have imagined," the Senators said in the letter. "To effectively address the problem of heroin and opioid dependence in our country, an 'all hands on deck' approach that recognizes the value of prevention and education, law enforcement, overdose prevention and the utilization of all opioid addiction treatments is required."

Full text of the letter can be found below:

The Honorable Eric Holder, Jr.
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20530-2000

Dear Attorney General Holder:

Addiction to prescription opioids and heroin has become one of our nation's most challenging public health issues, affecting our neighborhoods and communities in ways far worse than anyone might have imagined. To confront this epidemic head on, we write to urge the Department of Justice (DOJ) to draw on the many evidenced-based strategies that are being successfully employed in the states. To truly break the cycle of drugs and crime, a collective response at the local, state and federal levels is required.

Read More: http://www.akronnewsnow.com/news/local/item/152086-portman-urges-action-on-heroin-opiate-problems

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