Today, Representatives Mary Bono Mack (CA-45) and Hal Rogers (KY-05) launched a bi-partisan Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse. As the Co-Chairs of the Caucus, Bono Mack and Rogers are long-time advocates for multi-tiered solutions to the ever-growing epidemic that has wrought havoc on communities large and small throughout the United States. The new Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse aims to unite like-minded policy-makers to raise awareness of abuse, and to work towards innovative and effective policy solutions incorporating treatment, prevention, law enforcement and research. Representatives Bill Delahunt (MA-10), Stephen Lynch (MA-09) and Connie Mack (FL-14) are also original caucus members.
"Prescription drug abuse is on the rise, threatening the lives of more and more of our young people every day," said Bono Mack. "Far too many Americans have the misconception that prescription drugs are "safer' because they're prescribed by a doctor, but the fact is that prescription drugs, when abused, can be just as addictive and as deadly as street drugs. Like millions of people across our country, I have seen firsthand the devastation that prescription drug abuse can cause, and I am proud to launch this Caucus with some of my colleagues who share my passion and dedication to ending this cycle of abuse that is destroying the lives and futures of too many of our young people."
"For decades, I've witnessed the devastation wrought by the diversion and abuse of otherwise legal prescription drugs in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. The formulation of this bi-partisan caucus is proof that this epidemic knows no boundaries -- geographic, socio-economic or otherwise. Prescription drug abuse is overwhelming our local law enforcement community, challenging our health practitioners and worst of all, is an easy predator on our young people," stated Rogers. "In Kentucky, we've employed a three-pronged approach to combat the scourge of abuse -- law enforcement, treatment and education -- and today we're applying this strategy, with the input of research, to tackle drug diversion. I look forward to collaborating with these and other colleagues who are similarly dedicated to tackling prescription drug abuse from the bottom-up and the top-down.
"Prescription drug abuse across America can only be described as an epidemic," said Delahunt. "Between 2002 and 2007, my home state of Massachusetts lost 42 times as many residents to opioid-related overdoses than in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the Commonwealth is currently seeing 2 deaths per day. I am proud to join today with my colleagues in forming this bipartisan caucus which makes addressing this crisis a national priority."
"Too many families and communities have felt firsthand the devastation caused by prescription drug abuse," said Lynch. "The Prescription Drug Caucus will help raise awareness of this terrible epidemic while developing effective policies to combat abuse. I am proud to be an original member of the Caucus and look forward to working with my colleagues on this important issue."
"I have seen firsthand how families are impacted by prescription drug abuse. We need to work together to help the victims and their families cope with a problem that has no social, economic or geographic bounds," stated Mack. "I'm looking forward to working with my colleagues on this Caucus to find solutions and hope for so many Americans struggling with this addiction."
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 7 million people are utilizing prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. Nearly one-third of individuals who began abusing drugs in the past year reported their first drug was a prescription drug, and one out of every five new drug abusers is initiating use with potent narcotics, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) indicates illegal prescription drug diversion is the fastest growing drug threat nationwide.
The Caucus will conduct periodic events to educate Members of Congress, congressional staff, relevant government officials and the general public about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and policies aimed at reducing the diversion and misuse of these drugs.