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Dear Rhonda,

Today is International Overdose Awareness Day. We all know someone who has suffered the ultimate loss. Our family, our friends, our neighbors, our children. Nobody is immune from the addiction crisis. Today is a day to remember, reflect, and speak out. Overdoses are preventable. We must do more.

This is indeed a national emergency. Several weeks ago, President Trump stated his intention to declare a national emergency around the opioid epidemic. Since his statement – NO NATIONAL EMERGENCY HAS BEEN DECLARED TO DATE.

Words are one thing, taking action is another. Action is what we need. Thank you for taking action and signing our letter to the President urging him to declare a national emergency. Please take this link and post it on your social media pages and urge your family and friends to sign as well! https://www.facingaddiction.org/a-national-emergency-declaration

What would a national emergency mean? It could open up various new funding streams from the federal government. It could mean increased access to medically assisted treatment. And it could loosen restriction on using Medicaid dollars to gain access to treatment.

Show the President that you are willing to do more than talk – show him and his administration that you are willing to act. Please, take a moment today and post the link to our letter urging President Trump to turn his words into action and officially declare this national emergency. Again, the link to post is https://www.facingaddiction.org/a-national-emergency-declaration.

Thank you for all that you do.

With warm regards,

Michael King
Director of Outreach & Engagement

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You’ve seen the news. Hurricane Harvey pelted the Houston area with over 25 inches of rain in just 3 days, displacing at least 30,000 people—and it’s not done yet. The news is scary, but we can help.

Starting today, you can click here to make a tax-deductible donation that will be distributed to verified Hurricane Harvey campaigns. We’ve pledged $100,000 to help those affected. Will you join us?

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Freedom — and the right to make choices — is woven into America’s DNA. But one of those choices might become life and death for millions of Americans.

Although our current healthcare system is far from perfect, for 91 percent of Americans today who have some form of health insurance, that coverage is fairly comprehensive across unpredictable needs people may have.

As a result of the 2008 Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act and The Affordable Care Act, signed by presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama

But that coverage could change dramatically if the U.S. Senate moves forward with the House version of The American Health Care Act proposal, supported by the Trump Administration. Last week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted one in six Americans will have to choose to buy a health insurance policy with coverage for substance use disorders costing thousands of dollars more than other plans that will be available on the market.

Perhaps one can make the argument there is sufficient “fear” for individuals to choose to purchase emergency room or cancer coverage. One can surely imagine a family planning to have a child purchasing maternity coverage, or a person with chronic back pain purchasing surgical coverage. But who expects addiction to cross their doorstep?

  • “I [Jim] never expected my son, Austin, to become addicted. The thought never crossed my mind. There was nothing in my family’s life that would have led me to believe I would need that kind of insurance.”
  • “My [Greg’s] parents didn’t expect me to become addicted, because they never had a problem with substance use themselves. How could they possibly know that when their boy turned 17 they would need insurance that ultimately saved my life?”
  • With only one in ten of the more than 20 million Americans currently suffering from a substance use disorder ever getting treatment, why would anyone think they need this kind of insurance coverage, especially if it is thousands of dollars more expensive?

Most people probably don’t think they will cause a car accident. But what if we allowed people who operate motor vehicles not to carry insurance that would pay their liability in an accident they caused — or offered them the “opportunity” to do so only after they caused an accident? It is no different with addiction.

In a country where one in seven people will experience a substance use disorder, virtually no one ever thinks they will be impacted. Worse, it is absurd to make the argument that people with an illness of the brain—that so often tells them they don’t have a problem—will ever choose to buy coverage (even if they can afford it) for an illness they don’t think they have. And, so, those people continue to suffer — as does all of society.

The notion of forcing families to choose to pay more for addiction treatment coverage will have catastrophic effects on a country with an already burgeoning opioid epidemic.

Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, and West Virginia — states crushed by the weight of opioid deaths — could see double or triple the number of overdose deaths if people from those states have no access to treatment for addiction.

The Surgeon General’s history-making report, Facing Addiction In America, released last November, confirms that addiction impacts as many people in America as diabetes, and one and a half times as many as all cancers combined. The consequences of untreated addiction costs our economy $442 billion a year – twice what we spend on diabetes.

The report shows that every dollar spent on substance use disorder treatment saves $4 in healthcare costs and $7 in criminal justice costs. There are very few (if any) other investments in healthcare with this type of return on investment to the budget and, importantly, to the public safety concerns of communities.

What our senators — most of whom have been outspoken on solving the opioid crisis — must do in the coming weeks is make a fiscally (to say nothing of humanely) prudent decision: ensure that addiction remains a covered and accessible benefit in any health proposal moving forward.

Eliminating this coverage will force states and communities to pay dramatically in increased emergency room visits, lost productivity in the workplace, increased prison populations, and greater death rates. No other untreated health issue has the enormous public safety costs associated with it that addiction does.

We have known this for more than a decade. Ten years ago Congress went through a bi-partisan debate — including Congressional Budget Office Scoring — on The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

In a hearing in 2007, former Republican Congressman Jim Ramstad said, “we have all the empirical data in the world to show that increasing access to treatment is not only the right thing to do, but it is a cost-effective thing to do. We have got the proof, the empirical data, including all the actuarial studies, to prove that equity for mental health and addiction treatment will save billions of dollars nationally, while not raising anyone’s premiums more than one-half of one percent.”

If we allow addiction treatment to become a future purchasing choice for millions of Americans, what we believe might be a moderate savings in insurance premiums up front will ultimately cost all of us many times more in devastating, unintended economic consequences — to say nothing of the incalculable human toll.

We must impress upon our senators the critical need to maintain required coverage for substance use disorders under any future health reform.

It saves money and lives.

To do anything less creates a scenario for disaster in both financial and human terms. And that is not part of America’s DNA

Jim Hood is the co-founder and CEO of Facing Addiction: Jim lost his oldest son to addiction in 2012. An accomplished executive with many years of experience on Madison Avenue, Wall Street, as a consultant, and an entrepreneur, Jim left his business career to work with others to find a solution to the addiction crisis in our country.

Greg Williams is the co-Founder and executive vice president of Facing Addiction. Greg is a person in long-term recovery from addiction, and filmmaker behind the award winning documentary, “The Anonymous People,” which is a large spark behind this entire effort.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Dear President-Elect Trump,

We are writing as Americans who, regardless of political affiliation, are deeply concerned by the addiction crisis ravaging our country. You shared openly how alcoholism devastated your brother Fred’s life. In fact, addiction to alcohol and other drugs impacts 45 million Americans and their families. As you heard during the campaign, 21 million families today are being torn apart by substance use disorders, thousands more bury their children each year- at ever-younger ages, and drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in America.

Please click here : www.facingaddiction.org/sign-our-letter-to-the-president-elect

Facing Addiction

It began on 10-4-15, with tens of thousands of you joining us on the National Mall in Washington DC to end the silence and begin facing addiction together. Our work is continuing, and we are approaching our goal of 10,415 signatures thanking the President for his recent request of $1.1 billion in new funding to expand treatment access.

With 22 million Americans suffering from addiction, it is more important than ever that we show our elected leaders in Washington DC that we are organized and ready to speak out in numbers they’ve never seen before.  In making our case, the facts are undoubtedly on our side:

  •     90% of those in need of treatment do not receive it
  •     Deaths from drug overdoses have increased 137% since 2000
  •     90% of those addicted began using before the age of 18
  •     Untreated addiction costs our communities more than $400 billion every year

Please, help us reach the symbolic goal of 10,415 signatures by signing our letter today!

The time is now to demand that we dramatically increase investment in prevention, treatment and recovery options, and scientific research across our country.

Together, in stronger numbers than ever before, we will continue Facing Addiction.

Regards,

The Facing Addiction Team

Facing Addiction

On October 5, 2015, over 500 advocates from across the country joined together on Capitol Hill in Washington DC to meet with their elected leaders and discuss the importance of passing the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA). Their work and that of countless others has paid off – just now, the Senate passed CARA in a very challenging political environment. This is a critical step in seeing this vital piece of federal legislation through to final passage.

But we are not there yet – CARA still must pass the House of Representatives before it can be signed into law. This will take work – from our allied organizations to each and every one of you on the ground, we must reach out to our elected leaders in every way possible. Can you help move our efforts forward today and click here to make a donation of $25 or more to help us mount a robust campaign focused on the House of Representatives?

Lives are on the line and we can not afford to wait. CARA is a landmark piece of legislation. Just a few of its goals are to:

  • Expand prevention and educational efforts to prevent the use of opioids and heroin and to promote treatment and recovery
  • Expand recovery support for students in high school or enrolled in institutions of higher learning
  • Expand and develop community-based recovery supports across the country
  • Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services

In order for Facing Addiction and our partners to get CARA to the finish line, we need your help today. Please, click here to contribute $25 or more as we launch into the final stages of an effort you helped start! 

Thank you for all you do. Together, we will continue Facing Addiction.

Regards,

The Facing Addiction Team

Type of Drug                                Number of people (in millions)

Alcohol                                                17.7 million

Marijuana                                           4.3 million

Pain Relievers                                    2.06 million

Cocaine                                                1.12 million

Depressants                                        .76 million

Heroin                                                 .47 million

Hallucinogens                                    .33 million

Inhalants                                             .16 million

 

www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends