Opioid Epidemic: Great to See Alabama Politicians Working Together to End It

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By Kyle Morris

In a bipartisan effort, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a legislative package on Friday aimed at combatting the ongoing and deadly opioid crisis with a 396 to 14 vote.

Four of the main issues the latest legislation will focus on are treatment and recovery, prevention, protecting communities, and fighting fentanyl.

The bill also includes several Medicaid, Medicare, and public health reforms. It also looks into ways of limiting the trafficking of Chinese fentanyl into the United States.

Republican or Democrat, this is something we all should be praising.

In 2016 alone, nearly 65,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. That number is overwhelmingly alarming, yet many have neglected or refused to tackle the issue properly.

Three hundred and forty-three opioid-related overdose deaths occurred in Alabama in 2016, according to drugabuse.gov. The website states that that is a rate of 7.5 deaths per 100,000 persons.

Alabama’s rate is half of that of the national rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons. For a while, Alabama has been struggling with the opioid epidemic. Drugabuse.gov also states that Alabama providers wrote 141.1 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons in 2013. That’s one of the highest prescribing rates in the country.

In 2013, there were a little more than 150 opioid-related overdoses in Alabama. That number spiked in 2014 when there were more than 250 opioid-related overdoses.

Hundreds of thousands of individuals do not understand the negative impact that opioids are having on our great state and country. They have, for too long, taken the lives of thousands of Americans.

In a piece from Alabama Political Reporter, statements on the legislation from U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) and Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) were detailed.

“The opioid crisis has infiltrated communities all across our country and torn families apart. No community is immune from the opioid crisis. Here in the People’s House, we are committed to tackling this issue head on and providing support to patients and communities,” said Rep. Byrne.

Byrne said that more than 750 Alabamians die each year from opioid-related overdoses, but it’s unclear where that statistic comes from.

Regarding the comprehensive package, Byrne said, “I am confident this exhaustive package of bills will ensure quality care for those seeking help and provide our communities the resources to prevent the spread of this epidemic. It’s time we end the cycle.”

Rep. Sewell made it clear that anyone can become addicted and die from opioids, saying, “The opioid epidemic doesn’t discriminate by age, income, or gender – we have to give all Americans a path out of addiction.”

As someone who has seen the impact opioids can take on someone, I am 100 percent supportive of this measure. We all should be. We are losing nearly 65,000 of our American brothers and sisters each year due to opioid-related overdoses.

When it feels like all is lost in American politics sometimes, I am pleased to see Alabama’s representatives and others around the country cross party lines and work together. It doesn’t matter where you align politically, opioids could easily affect your life.

Eric Bolling, the previous co-host of Fox News’s The Five, lost his son recently to opioids and he has dedicated his life to fighting against safe practices to end the destruction. He is one of many parents in America who have been left heartbroken because of opioids. That’s when I really started focusing on this issue.

The opioid epidemic is one that doesn’t receive the attention it deserves. We would rather argue about why we believe Donald Trump is right or wrong while thousands are dying before us. I will say one thing, Donald Trump has made it a goal of his to focus on this epidemic and I applaud him for that.

I hope, for the sake of Alabama and this country, that we can end the madness. Prescriptions should be limited. It seems as though many medical officials will write a prescription for anything. With bipartisan support, a positive solution can be reached.

Far too many Americans are losing their lives each day due to opioids. It’s time to stand up and fight back.

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