Luján Urges New White House Commission On Drug Addiction To Support Treatment And Prevention Efforts

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján

From the Office of U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM)  sent a letter to the head of the new White House Commission to Combat Drug Abuse, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, urging him to prioritize funding for drug treatment and prevention initiatives as the commission begins its work.

Luján wrote: “Congress took an important first step to address the opioid abuse epidemic by providing additional resources to states to support treatment and prevention … Congress has already delivered the first portion of this funding, $500 million for the 2017 fiscal year. We must build on this progress by ensuring a seamless path forward for the next $500 million.”

Last Congress, Luján introduced legislation which called for additional resources for treatment and prevention programs to address the opioid abuse problem. He was instrumental in securing the first installment of federal funding for 2017 and is now fighting to secure the second installment of $500 million, or even increase funding to combat the drug abuse problem in 2018.

Both Luján’s and Christie’s home states of New Mexico and New Jersey have been deeply impacted by the opioid abuse problem, with both states listed in the top third of all states in terms of drug-related deaths. New Jersey also had one of the highest increases in drug overdoses in recent years, which indicates the problem is growing worse there.

The letter goes on to say: “Multiple generations of Americans have been hurt by this crisis because we have historically failed to make the necessary investments in treatment and prevention … I stand ready to work with you on this important issue, but I feel strongly that the problem demands more than rhetoric and good intentions – we need action and we need resources if we are to turn the corner on this crisis.”

 

The Honorable Chris Christie
Governor
State of New Jersey
P.O. Box 001
Trenton, New Jersey 08625
March 31, 2017

Dear Governor Christie:

Congratulations on your new role in leading the White House’s commission to combat drug addiction. As you begin your work, I write to stress the importance of ensuring a sufficient and stable stream of federal resources in the areas of treatment and prevention and would encourage you to go beyond current funding levels and devote additional resources to these two important areas.

As you know, the drug crisis impacts millions of American families, thousands of communities and all 50 states – especially when it comes to the opioid abuse problem which has so deeply affected New Mexico and your home state of New Jersey. Substance abuse related deaths continue to rise in the United States, and overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in our country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, as more than 60 percent of all drug overdose deaths involve an opioid. From 2000 to 2015, more than half a million people died from drug overdoses, and 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.  In my home state the accidental drug overdose rate is at 25.3 per hundred-thousand.

Recently, Congress took an important first step to address the opioid abuse epidemic by providing additional resources to states to support treatment and prevention . At the end of last year, Congress passed the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act, which authorized $1 billion in funding over two years to combat the opioid epidemic. Congress has already delivered the first portion of this funding, $500 million for the 2017 fiscal year. We must build on this progress by ensuring a seamless path forward for the next $500 million which constitutes the second portion of this funding in fiscal year (FY) 2018, which President Trump correctly called for in his Fiscal Year 2018 budget preview.

However, I believe that we must do more. Multiple generations of Americans have been hurt by this crisis because we have historically failed to make the necessary investments in treatment and prevention. As you and the task force begin this vital effort, I hope that we can work together to secure the necessary resources for FY18, while laying the groundwork for sustained and robust investments in future years to support the individuals and families struggling with addiction, improve public health, and strengthen our communities. I stand ready to work with you on this important issue, but I feel strongly that the problem demands more than rhetoric and good intentions – we need action and we need resources if we are to turn the corner on this crisis.

I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Ben Ray Luján
Member of Congress
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