Congressman David Joyce : Op-Eds : Fighting the Opioid Crisis at Home
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Fighting the Opioid Crisis at Home

Today, about 130 Americans will die from an opioid-related overdose, close to 84 infants in Ohio will be born suffering from the horrific symptoms of drug withdrawal, and over 20 million people across the country will continue to battle with addiction. 

These statistics are harrowing and the stories of loss they cause are heartbreaking; all of us have loved-ones, friends, or members of our communities who have been impacted.

The sad truth is that the opioid crisis has been breaking apart families, threatening the safety of our communities and hurting our economy for decades, with opioid-related overdose deaths having more than quadrupled since 1999.

In 2017 alone, opioids were involved in 47,600 drug overdose deaths that occurred across the country. Of those, 5,111 were Ohioans.

These aren’t just numbers. These are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents and children, and their deaths have made the Buckeye State one of the top five states with the highest rates of fatal opioid-related overdoses.

Since coming to Congress, my commitment to protecting our communities from this epidemic has not wavered. One of my top priorities has been ensuring the federal funding Congress has provided to combat the opioid epidemic effectively supports the life-saving work our local communities carry out on the front lines of this crisis.

That’s why earlier this year, I introduced the Comprehensive Opioid Program Extension (COPE) Act of 2019. My bill would increase the funding level available for the Department of Justice’s Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program grants by $70 million per year. These additional resources would provide more training and resources for first responders who are responding to overdose emergencies every day, help combat the illegal distribution of opioids pouring more of these dangerous substances into our neighborhoods, develop programs to prevent our kids from abusing opioids early-on, and implement drug take-back initiatives. 

Over the years, I have seen first-hand how effective drug take-back programs can be. From old high school sports injuries to an unfortunate dental procedure or even something as simple as recurring back pain, many of us have leftover prescriptiondrugs. These pills aren’t just taking up space in our medicine cabinets. These pills can – and do – kill. In fact, in 2008, the number of deaths nationwide involving prescription opioids exceeded the number of deaths from heroin and cocaine combined.

Drug take-back programs give each of us a way to help prevent these deaths and fight back against the opioid crisis. One of the most successful examples is the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Days.

Held twice a year, National Prescription Drug Take Back Days provide Americans across the country with the opportunity to safely dispose of excess prescription medications in a way that is safe, convenient, and responsible. These efforts help take millions of unwanted medications off our streets.

Last year alone, the two National Prescription Drug Take Back days resulted in the collection of 931.62 tons of prescription medications, including 85,715 pounds from Ohio.

This Saturday, April 27, 2019, we can all help protect our families, friends and community from the opioid crisis by getting rid of our unused prescriptions at a Take Back Day collection site from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 

To find the collection site closest to you, visit https://takebackday.dea.gov/

With this one simple action, each of us can take a crucial step forward in safeguarding our loved ones and the communities we cherish from the opioid crisis’ tragic path of addiction.