America is known for its differences. Our nation is home to big cities and small farms, quaint main streets and bustling highways. Every city, state, and town varies from the one next door. But the opioid epidemic knows no geographic or socioeconomic bounds, and it has reached every community in this country. Despite our regional differences, what America is most known for is its ability to come together. Americans stand united in the fight against opioid addiction.
No corner of the United States has been left untouched by the opioid crisis. Communities from coast to coast have seen the devastating effects that opioids have on our friends, families, and neighbors. That includes neighborhoods right here in the Sixth District. As Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, in May I convened a hearing on the “Challenges and Solutions in the Opioid Abuse Crisis.” Members of the Committee examined what’s working and what needs to be looked at again in dealing with this crisis. We also heard first-hand testimony from Kristen Holman of Lynchburg. She lost her brother, and her parents lost their son, to addiction in 2017. The suffering under the grip of these drugs is all too real.
One of the focuses of last month’s hearing was a new danger factoring into the opioid epidemic – synthetic, or analogue, drugs. These chemically-altered drugs are flooding the illicit drug market. Synthetic drugs are designed to mimic other street drugs and can be more potent than the real thing and just as deadly. Last year, a woman was found in Rockingham County with more than four pounds of one of these drugs called fentanyl – the largest seizure ever of this drug by Virginia State Police. Just a few weeks ago, the Nebraska State Patrol seized almost 120 pounds of fentanyl during a routine traffic stop. That’s enough lethal doses to kill 26 million people. Because many of these drugs come from outside of the country, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act. This bipartisan bill will provide swifter action to stop the unlawful importation and distribution of synthetic drugs and give law enforcement effective tools to help keep our communities safe.
In the coming weeks, the House of Representatives will vote on dozens of bills to combat this chilling epidemic. From stopping these drugs at their source to providing help to those struggling with addiction, Congress is committed to working with President Trump and his Administration to stop this crisis. With a focus on enforcement, prevention, and treatment, we can turn the tide on this public health emergency.
If you know someone struggling with addiction, please talk to them and encourage them to seek help. There are resources available in every community to assist those who need support ending their reliance on drugs. It will take each and every one of us, but together we can make sure the opioid epidemic meets its end.
- Congressman Goodlatte spoke with a Lynchburg family about their son’s death due to opioid abuse: Watch the video, here.
- The Judiciary Committee spoke on the same issue: Watch the video, here.