Congressman Russ Carnahan (MO-3) held a press conference with area stakeholders Friday morning, to announce the introduction of H.R. 5711, the Access to Substance Abuse Treatment Act.
H.R. 5711 will reduce crime and improve public safety in communities affected by illicit drug abuse; improve access to essential wrap-around services, such as mental health services, dental care, child care, housing assistance, job training and transportation to training; and expand research on the root causes of stimulant drug abuse and identify the most effective ways to treat it.
"Illicit drug abuse, from heroin to cocaine and methamphetamine, has a deep impact on our country, costing taxpayers billions of dollars annually and making our neighborhoods less safe," said Rep. Carnahan. "We know what the problem is, we know how widespread it is and we know how to create solutions to it. Treatment has a major impact on every aspect of the drug problem, and it is high time we treat addiction like the disease it is, rather than simply locking addicts away."
Treatment is proven to be one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce drug abuse; every dollar spent on treatment saves $7.46 in lost productivity and crime prevention and prosecution costs. Treatment also reduces drug selling by 78%, shoplifting by almost 82%, and assaults by 78%, and overall, treatment decreases arrests for any crime by 64%. Yet, nearly 80% of the 3.5 million Americans currently abusing the most dangerous substances do not receive appropriate treatment.
H.R. 5711 was introduced with 29 original co-sponsors.