McConnell: Encouraging to See the Reduction in Overdose Deaths Across the Country
‘This tireless work by Kentuckians has helped write the headlines we’re celebrating today. Of course, there’s still much more to do. We know this is not the end of our battle against addiction — not even close. But it is encouraging to see the reduction in overdose deaths across the country. As Majority Leader, I will continue to fight to ensure Kentucky and the nation have the resources to build on this progress, prevent and treat addiction, and ultimately, save lives.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the nationwide battle against opioids:
“The epidemic of opioid and substance abuse has wreaked havoc throughout the country. More than two million Americans suffer from opioid addiction. For years, the situation only seemed to get worse and worse. Unfortunately, my home state of Kentucky saw the pain firsthand. We’re among the hardest-hit states by this crisis.
“But last week, both Kentucky and the entire nation received a glimmer of long-awaited good news. Preliminary figures from the National Center for Health Statistics show that last year, 2018, saw the first nationwide decline in drug overdose deaths since 1990. For twenty-eight straight years, overdose deaths climbed. But in 2018 that tragic number finally dropped. It was approximately a 5 percent decline nationwide.
“And in Kentucky? The Bluegrass saw overdose deaths fall by nearly 15 percent last year. The largest drop in our state in more than a decade. After years of working and waiting, we’re finally seeing progress in the fight to save lives. These numbers didn’t happen on their own. Our comprehensive response involves countless law enforcement officers, medical professionals, educators, community leaders, and family members and friends of those affected.
“I’m proud that, several times in recent years, this Senate has done our part to bolster this fight with sweeping bipartisan action. We passed wide-ranging legislation to backstop the work on the front lines with new programs, new funding for research, and new federal resources for the communities most in need. Just last year, we passed another landmark bill to attack the crisis of abuse from every angle. Among its many features, the legislation makes it harder to traffic illegal drugs across the border. It supports mothers and babies struggling with opioid withdrawal. And it even includes my provision to help those in recovery find a good job and stable housing as they work toward long-term recovery.
“I’m particularly proud of Kentucky’s own role leading in this recovery. Researchers at the University of Kentucky received the largest federal grant in the school’s history to fight opioid abuse across our state. I was proud to help them secure these resources as they aim to achieve a 40% reduction of opioid overdose deaths in three years. In my hometown of Louisville, a private sector research facility received FDA approval for a medicine to ease withdrawal symptoms. And I’ve worked to secure the inclusion of more Kentucky counties under the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program and increase coordination among local, state, and federal law enforcement on drug interdiction.
“This tireless work by Kentuckians has helped write the headlines we’re celebrating today. Of course, there’s still much more to do. We know this is not the end of our battle against addiction — not even close. But it is encouraging to see the reduction in overdose deaths across the country. As Majority Leader, I will continue to fight to ensure Kentucky and the nation have the resources to build on this progress, prevent and treat addiction, and ultimately, save lives.”
Related Issues: Health Care, Opioid Abuse