OPINION

How we’re combating opioid abuse

Reps. Mike Bishop, Dave Trott and Fred Upton

We face an opioid and heroin abuse epidemic that is tearing apart families and communities, leaving very few corners of our country untouched by these tragedies.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, in 2014 drug poisoning deaths rose 14 percent and became the No. 1 cause of injury-related death in Michigan.

That’s why earlier this month, we came together in the House of Representatives and advanced 18 bipartisan bills focused on opioid and heroin addiction, treatment, and prevention.

First, we held a number of bipartisan hearings here in the House with experts, stakeholders, individuals in recovery, and families to help identify problems with how opioid and heroin addiction is treated and ways we can help those in real need

We then spoke with Michigan law enforcement officials — one area we agreed on is that we must make certain these dangerous drugs do not get into the hands of our kids. Nearly 800,000 children between the ages of 12 and 17 tried opioids for the first time within the past year. We also agreed that our legislation should not unjustly penalize patients that legally use opioids as a way to alleviate chronic pain.

Our package of bipartisan solutions also focuses on common sense areas of agreement such as providing resources to help our communities deal with this problem, helping newborns who are born into addiction, and promoting state prescription-drug monitoring programs.

After the strong passage of these 18 important bills, House Speaker Paul Ryan appointed the three of us to the conference committee that will work directly with the U.S. Senate, which passed its own legislation related to opioid and heroin abuse, on a final piece of bipartisan legislation to send to the president’s desk.

We will continue to work with all of the stakeholders in Michigan to get a good piece of legislation across the finish line.

Reps. Mike Bishop, Dave Trott, and Fred Upton represent Michigan’s 8th, 11th and 6th congressional districts, respectively.