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Speaker Ryan: “The time is now” to Combat the Opioid Crisis


06.13.18

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) penned an op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today, talking about Congress’ continued efforts to combat the opioid crisis and why this fight is so personal.

In his op-ed, Speaker Ryan shared the story of a man from Wisconsin who fell victim to the opioid epidemic, but is now leading the way for others.

Speaker Ryan writes, “Kyle has been clean for more than four years now, but he lost a lot before getting there. He was sent to the hospital after suicide attempts and a near overdose. He can name for you at least 10 friends whose lives have been claimed by drugs.”

Yesterday, the House kicked off a two-week push to consider dozens of bills to combat the opioid crisis and passed 25 bills originating in the Energy and Commerce Committee.

To learn more about Energy and Commerce’s comprehensive efforts to combat the opioid crisis, click HERE.


How Congress is stepping up to crack down on the opioid epidemic

By House Speaker Paul Ryan

There’s a man from southern Wisconsin who has a story of hope and inspiration. But that wasn’t always the case. For Kyle Pucek, an ankle injury at 23 turned into an addiction to heroin that nearly took his life.

Kyle was prescribed opioids for the pain. He got hooked. And like so many Americans found himself in a dangerous spiral for survival.

Kyle has been clean for more than four years now, but he lost a lot before getting there. He was sent to the hospital after suicide attempts and a near overdose. He can name for you at least 10 friends whose lives have been claimed by drugs.

Now, working with nonprofits in his native Janesville, he shares his story to encourage those struggling to enter recovery and get the help they need. One organization he works with is called Hope Over Heroin, a faith-based organization that uses a three-tiered approach to fight opioid addiction and support families impacted by the crisis.

Stories like Kyle’s are inspiring Congress to take action, create more hope and save lives. For one, we are establishing more recovery centers like the one in Janesville as part of a series of reforms we’re considering on the House floor this week.

Altogether, this will be the most significant congressional effort against a single drug crisis in history.

In the last two years, the federal government has passed two major pieces of legislation to combat this crisis. In 2016, Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. Earlier this year, we allocated nearly $4 billion toward opioid abuse prevention and treatment as part of a broader government funding package.

To build on that, we have put together meaningful bipartisan legislation to make a difference for those who are at risk or struggling with addiction or recovery. This means creating more access to recovery centers so people have a place to turn to for help. In addition, the measures the House will consider over the next two weeks will stem the flow of opioids by changing how pills are prescribed and encourage non-opioid treatments. We will pass legislation to target the deadly synthetic opioid, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids like it. And we will give law enforcement more access to the resources they need to get these drugs off the street.

It is a sweeping effort to stem this crisis.

Of course, bills passed in Washington alone will not stop this epidemic. We all have a role to play in supporting those affected, including putting an end to the stigma surrounding addiction. We need to be clear that addiction does not define a person, and there is no shame in wrestling with it or asking for help. All of us can do our part to offer compassion and support. And we need to continue to strengthen the institutions that bond our communities so that no one feels isolated.

Earlier this year, Kyle attended the State of the Union as my guest, sitting in the front row of the gallery across the hall from the first lady. Kyle is proof that no matter how far we fall, all of us can pick ourselves up with a little help, and hope, too. He is a reminder of why we do this: When government and communities work together to tackle these problems, we can most successfully lift up those in need.

Click here to read the column online.

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