Guthrie: More Comprehensive Action Needed To Address The Overdose Crisis
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an op-ed for The News-Enterprise, Congressman Brett Guthrie (KY-02) writes that more comprehensive action is needed to reverse Kentucky’s devastating increases in overdose rates. The Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy’s report shows that overdose deaths increased by 14.5% in 2021 compared to 2020 and that fentanyl was involved in over 70% of overdoses.
Guthrie, who serves as the Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee and as co-leader of the Healthy Future Task Force, shares his efforts to address the overdose crisis, including legislation to provide treatment and recovery resources, make fentanyl-related substances permanently illegal, and hold social media platforms responsible for enforcing policies to stop the illegal sale of drugs on their platforms. In the op-ed, Guthrie also encourages Kentuckians, especially those who are directly involved in responding to and impacted by the overdose crisis, to share their recommendations on turning the tide of the crisis.
Below are highlights of The News-Enterprise op-ed by Guthrie. Click HERE to read the full piece.
Kentucky communities, including Hardin County, are stepping up to turn the tide of the crisis. I am working hard as your federal representative to prevent overdose deaths, address the causes of the crisis, and provide help to people who want to overcome their substance use disorder.
While communities have been combating the overdose crisis for decades, the crisis has gotten significantly worse due to the negative impact that the COVID-19 pandemic and the government lockdowns and restrictions in response to COVID-19 had on people’s mental health.
On top of this, drug trafficking through the unsecure southern border is exacerbating the drug overdose crisis by flooding our communities with cheap, deadly drugs, making it easier for vulnerable people to access illicit drugs.
As I work on policies to stop this crisis, I value the ideas that Kentuckians directly involved in responding to the overdose crisis and those who have been impacted by it recommend to me. This Congress, I was selected to serve as the top Republican of the Energy and Commerce’s Health Subcommittee and as co-chair of House Republicans’ Healthy Future Task Force. Both roles have given me an opportunity to help lead critical discussions in Congress on best approaches to combating the overdose crisis and to shape the policy solutions.
I am working on a multi-pronged approach to ensure recovery and treatment resources are available for people who want to overcome their substance use disorders, while also working to give law enforcement the tools they need to get these deadly drugs out of our communities.
To achieve this, I am pushing through the gridlock in Washington to build upon effective federal programs already in place, including my Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act. I was recently successful in getting the Substance Use Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Services Block Grant Act of 2022, a bill I am co-leading, passed in the House of Representatives. This bill would provide targeted federal funding for states to work with local organizations and establish programming that best fit the communities’ needs, including substance use disorder treatment services and workforce training.
In addition to helping people get back on their feet, the flow of drugs, especially deadly fentanyl and methamphetamine, must be stopped.
Fentanyl was involved in nearly 73% of overdose deaths last year in the Commonwealth. Behind each statistic is a loved one. Two brave families this year at a roundtable I hosted shared their story of losing a child to fentanyl with me to raise awareness and help prevent other families from the heartbreak they are facing.
I am pushing for secure borders to keep these deadly drugs off our streets and to curb overdose deaths. I am also fighting to pass the HALT Fentanyl Act to make fentanyl-related substances, which can be even deadlier than fentanyl, permanently illegal.
To cut down on a source of illegal drugs that kids are especially vulnerable to, I am working on legislation to crack down on the illegal sale of drugs online, including on popular social media platforms. This would force internet platforms companies to create and then enforce policies to address the illegal sale of drugs on their platforms. Failing to comply would allow both federal and state law enforcement officials to go after these companies.
I will continue acting with urgency to fight for more resources and for more tools to reverse the devastating increases in overdose rates in Kentucky. As I develop policies, I want to ensure Kentuckians have a seat at the table because I value ideas on how to best address this crisis from people involved in responding to and impacted by the overdose crisis.
Click HERE to read the full op-ed.