Opioid addiction is ‘a horrible scourge that we have to try to stop’ – BG Independent News

By DAVID DUPONT

BG Independent News

US Rep. Bob Latta stopped by the Bowling Green Police Department this weekend to help promote drug return efforts.

Standing next to the mail box that serves as the collection vehicle for prescription drugs that people no longer need, he spoke about the nation’s struggle with opioids. These collection drives get unneeded prescriptions out of circulation and allows them to be disposed of safely.

About 40 percent of people who are addicted, Latta said, get their drugs from household medicine cabinets. And many more flow in from China by way of the Mexican border.

Last year, Lata said, law enforcement interdicted 11,201 pounds of fentanyl. Given the purity of the drug, that’s enough to kill every American seven times over. The drug is so pure even a few flakes can cause someone – a Good Samaritan or law officer – to overdose if they inhale even a miniscule amount.

US Rep. Bob Latta poses with drug collection box at the Bowling Green Police Division.

The leading cause of death in 18-25 year old is drug overdose, with fentanyl a leading culprit.

As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has health as part of its portfolio, the fentanyl crisis has been a key discussion issue.

Back in 2018 the House through bipartisan action pulled together a number of related bills. The legislation, House Bill 6, eventually was passed and signed into law by then President Trump.

This included legislation by Latta to promote limits on prescriptions, so that if an opioid is prescribed, it is done so only a few day’s supply, not for a month.

At that point there was a national conversation about fentanyl and opioid abuse, he said. Now it seems to be less an issue.

But five years ago, he said, 76,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, many related to fentanyl. That seemed to be the peak. But the latest figures show 106,000 Americans have died of overdoses

And that’s not talked enough, including by political candidates. “Sometimes things get lost in primaries,” Latta said. “This is an issue we need to be talking about all the time. … This is a horrible scourge that we have to try to stop.”

Back in December, Latta and fellow Republican Morgan Griffith of Virginia introduced the Halt Lethal Trafficking (HALT) Fentanyl Act. This would make fentanyl a Schedule 1 drug, along with heroin, LSD, cannabis, Quaaludes, and peyote.

At the time, he stated in a press release: “Over the last three decades, the United States has been fighting the opioid epidemic, ranging from prescription opioids to synthetic opioids, like fentanyl. The havoc these substances wreak on our communities is devastating, and congressional action must be taken. I am pleased to introduce meaningful legislation alongside my colleague, Rep. Griffith, that will permanently schedule fentanyl and fentanyl related substances as Schedule I substances under the Controlled Substances Act.”

During his recent visit to Bowling Green, he indicated some exemptions to allow researchers to study medical use of fentanyl would be needed.

But having it registered as a schedule 1 drug would “make sure law enforcement can do what they want.”

Currently, he said, the drug manufactured in China is finding its way into the United States through Mexico. Also, meth is coming in. This meth is so pure its putting illegal meth labs in the United States out of business.

The United States must stop the flow of drugs into the country, he said.

It must also prevent people from getting addicted and provide more treatment for those who are.

There are too few beds for treatment, Latta said. Those addicted will sometimes overdose while waiting for admission.

“A lot of people think this doesn’t happen in my town, in my area,” Latta said. They are wrong. “It’s happening in their house.”

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