As overdose deaths continue to climb, two U.S. senators have introduced legislation that would recognize September as “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month.”
Sens. Angus King (I-ME) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the bipartisan resolution Wednesday. Citing the increased isolation and anxiety in Americans brought about by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the senators said Americans are struggling with substance use disorders and access to treatment for them.
Nationally, drug overdose deaths have increased by 18 percent.
“You are not alone. Substance use disorders are cruel, deadly diseases – but with treatment and support, those afflicted with this disease can live full, happy lives,” King said. “Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has introduced new stressors and less access to care. Coronavirus precautions have altered routines and increased social isolation, creating new challenges for those in recovery who are struggling to access treatment or support systems. As the virus continues to rage across the country during this year’s National Recovery Month, Americans of all backgrounds must recommit ourselves to supporting our loved ones and neighbors who are fighting every day to overcome substance use disorders. We will get through this – together.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 1999 and 2018, more than 750,000 people died from a drug overdose, 70,000 in 2018 alone. Of those, two-thirds involved an opioid such as oxycodone, heroin, or synthetic opioids like fentanyl. More than 40 states have reported increases in opioid-related death.
Alcohol sales have risen more than 25 percent, while other studies have shown worrisome results. Millennium Health, a national laboratory service, reported that an analysis of 500,000 urine drug tests between mid-March and May found a 32 percent increase in the presence of fentanyl in urine sample, a 20 percent increase in the presence of methamphetamines, and a 10 percent in the presence of cocaine.
“As addiction continues to devastate communities and families throughout West Virginia, we must raise awareness of the available treatment and recovery measures,” said Senator Capito. “In West Virginia—and many communities across this nation—we continue to face the drug crisis on top of the additional challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic. By introducing the National Recovery Month resolution, I am hopeful that more people will become educated about treatment options.”