Donovan, House to Pass Comprehensive Opioid Legislation
Staten Island, NY—May 9, 2016....Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11), together with Borough President James Oddo, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, and Council Member Joe Borelli, today rallied in support of legislation to address Staten Island and South Brooklyn’s substance abuse epidemic. The Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act will come up for a vote in the House of Representatives this week. The legislation authorizes new grant funding for substance abuse treatment, education, and enforcement. The electeds were joined by Jackie Filis, Luke Nasta, and Alicia Reddy, local treatment providers and anti-substance abuse activists.
Congressman Donovan said, “Pills and heroin are claiming a generation before our eyes, and it’s about time we got the resources to fight back. Today, Congress recognized that the federal government’s response hasn’t been enough. Because of this legislation, new grant programs will fund increased treatment, education, and enforcement efforts.”
Senator Andrew Lanza said, “I commend Congressman Donovan for his leadership on this comprehensive package of legislation that will provide critical resources for the treatment and prevention of opioid abuse. The heroin and opiate abuse epidemic our country faces requires not only an effort on the state level but also a strategic national plan to prevent future addiction and expand resources to those in need of help.”
"As our community's battle against opioid addiction intensifies, we need every tool in the toolbox at our disposal. This initiative will bring funding to our community to expand treatment, support law enforcement programs, and expand prescription drug monitoring. I will continue to work with Congressman Donovan and our other colleagues to do everything possible to put an end to this terrible epidemic," said Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis.
Assemblyman Ron Castorina said, “I thank Congressman Donovan for his leadership in our response to the opioid epidemic, both as our District Attorney and now in Washington. It really is high time Congress recognized the gravity of the scourge we face, and hopefully with the grant funding up for approval this week, we will start addressing the issue head on. To solve this problem is to tackle it at its root – and that has to start with early education programs and strategically planned preventative measures.”
City Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo said, “The Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act will provide the crucial resources and support for the all-hands-on-deck approach we need to successfully attack the opioid scourge that is devastating our communities. Rep. Donovan deserves credit for making federal funding to combat this epidemic a priority and for his tenacity in making sure these funds become a reality.”
“I’m thankful to Congressman Donovan for fighting on our behalf to bring our share of federal resources back to Staten Island. There are few issues as worthy of federal support as this one. I look forward to pooling city, state, and federal resources to contain this epidemic by providing new preventative education and treatment programs on Staten Island. This additional layer of support will be critical in protecting our youth from falling victim to these addictions,” said Council Member Joe Borelli.
Nationwide, the number of heroin-related deaths has quadrupled since 2002. In New York City, nearly 797 people died from unintentional overdoses in 2014, with 57 percent of them involving heroin. This year, more Staten Islanders have died from overdoses than from car crashes and homicides combined.
Federal agencies have implemented new programs targeting substance abuse, but the crisis requires Congressional action and new grant funding for treatment providers who are already spread thin.
According to Donovan, an effective response requires attention to three areas: education, treatment, and enforcement. Today’s youth must be educated early about the dangers of addiction, and loved ones must learn to recognize the signs of addiction and how to respond. Treatment providers need resources to expand capacity, because nobody seeking help should be turned away. Lastly, the criminal justice system should have two goals: to get suppliers off the streets, and to get users off of drugs. Jails aren’t detox facilities, and proven diversion programs through drug treatment courts – which Donovan established as District Attorney – should have the resources and staffing needed to accomplish their mission.
The Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act accomplishes the objectives Donovan says are necessary to turn the tide on substance abuse. Among other provisions, the bill authorizes new grants available to cities and non-profit providers to:
- Prevent opioid abuse by juveniles;
- Expand opioid treatment programs;
- Establish and expand drug courts;
- Support investigations into opioid distributers;
- Equip first responders with life-saving overdose medications like Naloxone;
- Implement and expand Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs.
Donovan added, “This crisis has exploded to affect families of every race, socioeconomic status, and neighborhood. We’re directing resources towards programs and policies that have been effective, and we’ll continue to evaluate what’s working and what’s not. Gradually, working together, we can beat back this scourge.”
Since taking office, Donovan has made his district’s substance abuse crisis a main priority. He worked with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy to bring Interconnect – a prescription data-sharing network that allows pharmacists to check whether a script has been filled in other participating states – to New York. With Donovan’s support, Congress increased funding for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant program by $38.2 million, bringing the total to $1.78 billion. Congress also allocated funding to help equip first responders with life-saving overdose medications. In February, Donovan stood with local elected officials and treatment providers to call for a comprehensive Congressional response to the substance abuse crisis.
After the House passes its version of opioid abuse legislation, the House and Senate will enter a conference committee to resolve differences and send the bill to the President’s desk.