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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Opioid Epidemic the Focus of Senate Hearing on Wednesday

January 28, 2016 | Opioid and Heroin Epidemic | Comments
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On Wednesday, Senators, Governors, federal administrators and law-enforcement officials all testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee calling for stronger efforts to combat the nation’s opioid and heroin abuse epidemic. The hearing focused largely on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 524/ H.R. 953) – which invests millions of dollars in needed funding for prevention, treatment and recovery supports.  Despite strong bipartisan support, Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) delayed a vote on the bill until next week, noting that “we’re not there yet, but we are working hard.”

“We are facing a treatment gap of unacceptable proportions,” said Kana Enomoto, acting administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “As a nation, we will not stem the rising tide of this public health crisis if only two out of 10 people with an opioid use disorder get the treatment they need.”

Linda Hurley, one of two providers on the panel, is the Chief Operating Officer of CODAC Behavioral Healthcare and a member of the National Council for Behavioral Health. In her testimony before the Committee she pointed out that “this disease no longer knows gender, race, age or socio-economic boundaries. This is a highly complex, bio-psycho-social-spiritual disease, accompanied by physical states of tolerance and withdrawal and relapse. Treatment providers… need to be prepared to address this complexity with competence, knowledge of treatment options, compassion and a clear understanding of the neuroscience of addiction.”

Author of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, Senator Rob Portman, testified to provide a firsthand report on what is legislation could achieve for communities and families all across the country.

“There are ways we can make progress in combating this epidemic and lives can be saved,” he said. “From prevention efforts to law enforcement strategies to addressing overdoses and expanding evidence-based treatment to supporting those in recovery, this legislation is comprehensive. It will help communities pursue all of these proven strategies, and we need them all, not just one.”

Panelists for this hearing included: Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Rob Portman (R-OH); Governor Peter Shumlin (D-VT); Director Michael Botticelli, Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy; Kana Enomoto, Acting Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; Louis Milione, Deputy Assistance Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration; Chief Enoch Willard, Chief of Police, Manchester Police Department; Tonda DaRe, Founder, Holly’s Song of Hope; and Linda Hurley, COO, CODAC Behavioral Healthcare.