Our August FED UP Rally included a press event at the National Press Club calling for FDA removal of high dose opioids, a networking luncheon for partners to share advocacy practices, and a march to the White House and a candlelight vigil for hundreds of our followers. We believe our voices are being heard and reflected in a number of important addiction-fighting developments this fall.
Since our last update and in the face of ever increasing overdose deaths, we have seen coverage of the opioid addiction epidemic increase nationally. The epidemic has generated additional interest in policy and legislative solutions as well.
The FED UP Coalition is saddened to report that opioid-related overdose deaths continue to rise, seemingly unabated. Nationally, opioid overdose deaths rose 15% from 28,647 in 2014 to 33,091 in 2015. Heroin overdose deaths are skyrocketing because fentanyl is frequently mixed in with the heroin or sold as heroin. Final 2016 statistics, when reviewed and released by the CDC, are expected to be even more horrific.
As 2017 begins, we all are numbed by the continued horrific increase in overdose deaths involving opioids which rose from 28,647 in 2014 to 33,091 in 2015. Heroin overdose deaths rose from 10,574 in 2014 to 12,990 in 2015, an increase of 23 percent. Heroin continues to flood our communities and new threats in the form of Fentanyl and Carfentanil are continuing to emerge virtually unstopped. When final 2016 statistics are revealed by the CDC, those deaths are expected to be even more gruesome.
In the final days of 2016, the federal government took an important step toward controlling the opioid addiction epidemic. A bill signed into law on December 13th called the 21st Century Cures Act includes $1 billion in grants to states to expand access to opioid addiction treatment. FED UP fought long and hard for this funding. In recognition of our efforts, Judy Rummler (FED UP’s chairperson) was invited to the signing ceremony at the White House.
In 2016, CARA was passed. But much more needs to be done or overdose deaths will continue to mount. Previous calls for $920M to address the nation’s treatment gap have been ignored. Your member of Congress needs to hear from you now! They need to hear ASAP that every day without funding for treatment means more lost lives.
Thanks to all followers who descended upon Washington to attend the FED UP Rally, National Press Club Reception and Hill Day educational briefing. Only by aiming our voices at federal health and elected officials will we achieve the changes needed in federal policy and legislation to stem the tide of the opioid addiction epidemic.
By now, we are hopeful all FED UP! Coalition followers have made arrangements to attend the fourth FED UP! Rally on the grounds of the Washington monument on September 18. Rally details and logistical information are available on the website. As a follow-up to this year’s Rally, we have organized a Hill Day educational briefing on Capitol Hill on Monday, September 19. We will gather in Rayburn House Office Building (HOB Rm B-339) from 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM to discuss needed next steps in policy and legislation to stem the tide of the nation’s opioid addiction and mortality epidemic. Light morning refreshments will be provided.
The FED UP! Coalition has created a petition to Congress expressing strong disappointment with the failure to include new mandatory funding in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). We can not politely and patiently remain quiet as the opioid epidemic continues to worsen. Please read, sign and share our petition at: https://www.change.org/p/federal-funding-required-now-to-control-opioid-addiction-epidemic
On July 13, the Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act legislation. The CARA legislation is the only bill to make it out of congressional committees and make it to the floor of the House and Senate – it is likely the only attempt to get something done in the 114th congress. But even if the measure is signed into law, much more needs to be done.