For Immediate Release - September 30, 2015

AG Healey Urges Passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act to Address Prescription Drug Epidemic

AG Joins 37 Other Attorneys General and the District of Columbia in Advocacy to Congressional Leaders

BOSTON – Attorney General Maura Healey and attorneys general from 37 states plus the District of Columbia sent a letter to congressional leaders urging the passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015. The Act would provide states with the necessary tools to more effectively confront the growing challenges of the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic spreading throughout the country.

“We know that addiction is a disease but too often we don’t treat it like one,” AG Healey said. “Plain and simple, this is a public health crisis that must be attacked from all sides. This bill helps us expand our educational efforts, increase access to treatment and recovery services and strengthen programs to monitor the prescribing and sale of prescription painkillers.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses now surpass automobile accidents as the leading cause of injury-related death for Americans between the ages of 25 and 64. More than 100 Americans die as a result of overdose in this country every day – more than half of them caused by prescription drugs or heroin. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health recently reported that in 2014 more than 1,200 people died of an overdose here.

In the letters, the attorneys general write, “Law enforcement has always been on the frontline when it comes to drug crises, but we cannot arrest ourselves out of this current epidemic.  Research shows the best way to address this challenge is though a strategy that includes prevention, law enforcement, reduction of overdose deaths, evidence-based treatment, and support for those in, or seeking, recovery.”

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 will:

  • Expand prevention and educational efforts for teens, parents and other caretakers, to prevent the abuse of opioids and heroin and to promote treatment and recovery;
  • Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives;
  • Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment;
  • Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of children and adolescents;
  • Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program to assist in treatment and recovery throughout the country; and
  • Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.