Senate passes bill to help communities deal with heroin epidemic

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– A bi-partisan vote in Washington could help communities here in Connecticut deal with the growing heroin epidemic.

Monday, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. If it becomes law, it would send federal money to local communities that are battling the abuse of heroin and similar drugs known as opioids.

Right now, drug overdoses are now killing more people than car accidents. It’s such a big problem, it has actually done something almost impossible – it’s made Democrats and Republicans in Washington agree on something. Monday, the Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act 86-3.

One thing it does is put more Narcan in the hands of first responders. Narcan is a drug that can actually reverse an opioid overdose, if it’s administered fast enough. Timing is crucial, though, which is why police, firemen, and EMTs need to carry it with them. This bill will also try to prevent those overdoses by targeting the prescription opioids that people often get addicted to first before switching to heroin.

“And more education and training so that the powerful prescription painkillers that right now are the gateway to heroin addiction will be reduced and used with greater caution,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, (D) Connecticut.

Connecticut’s senior senator talked about how he has spearheaded the effort for this bill. Democrats have not gotten everything they wanted in the bill, however. They wanted $600 million to go to communities right away. Republicans shot down that idea.

What this bill does do is help doctors know if patients are “doctor shopping.” That’s where they go around to multiple doctors and getting opioid prescriptions from all of them. That’s illegal, but right now it’s tough to know if a patient is doing that, especially if they cross state lines.

This bill would give out grants that would help the states improve their computer databases to keep that from happening.

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