The opioid crisis facing Massachusetts and America requires Congress to act with reform measures that include block grants to the states, allowing them to provide greater treatment options, not jails.
The opioid crisis is a personal one to me. My son’s birth mother was addicted to opioids. Just two years ago, I lost a cousin to an overdose of opioids. I watched my son fight to breathe through the first 3 ½ years of his life while his young lungs recovered from the damage the opioids caused him while in his mother’s womb.
Much like big tobacco, drug manufacturers responsible for the lies to Congress, the FDA and medical providers that opioids were not addictive must be held accountable. They must pay fines in the hundreds of billions of dollars, with the funds directed to the states to help deal with their opioid crises. In Massachusetts, where are opioid crisis is double the national average, we have had over 18,000 opioid deaths just in the short life of my teenage daughter.
The U.S. Attorney General must investigate and explain to the American people why the pharmaceutical industry, their lobbyists, the FDA and the politicians have been allowed to create a deadly crisis.
We need a responsible government to pay attention to the hundreds of thousands of lives lost across our country due to the opioid epidemic created by drug manufacturers. The drug cartels could not produce all the heroin or synthetic drugs if drug manufacturers didn’t create the market in the first place while the government turned a blind eye.
Virtually every American family and business has experienced the opioid crisis. It’s time for business leaders and the American people to stand up and hold their politicians and drug manufacturers accountable. No more deaths. If it is found that drug manufacturers lied or withheld information about the addictive nature of opioids, those responsible should be prosecuted and sent to jail. After all, tens of thousands of American citizens have had their lives destroyed, gone to jail and had their employment opportunities devastated by criminal records due to addictions that began with a prescribed drug. Massachusetts in 2015 prescribed 240 million opioid pills. We only have 6.4 million residents. It has to stop.
The federal government’s most basic responsibility is to protect us from harm. Block grants will help states develop prevention, intervention, and treatment programs. The federal government and the states must work together to implement all available options for not sending the addicted to jail, but helping them enter comprehensive treatment programs which will offer recovery rather than criminal records. An addict trying to recover will be more successful when they don’t carry the burden of having to face the employment and personal consequences of a criminal record.
This is a fight we can win in Massachusetts and across this great nation. We as American citizens must demand that our federal government and the criminal justice system hold the drug manufacturers and the FDA accountable for the deaths that are on their hands. For those nonviolent victims who have already been convicted of addiction-related crimes, The President and the nation’s Governors should pardon them.