Maine Sen. Angus King and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.) earlier this week introduced a bipartisan resolution to designate September as “National Recovery Month” amid a nationwide uptick in overdose fatalities.
Maine saw a record 716 lives lost in 2022 due to overdoses, and a total of 10,110 documented overdoses that year alone, according to a report from the Attorney General’s Office.
More than 80 percent of the fatal overdoses were caused by fentanyl — often in combination with other illegal drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine.
Overdose deaths in 2022 were up 50 percent compared to pre-pandemic numbers, with a total of 110,000 Americans dying of a fatal alcohol or drug overdose, the Senators wrote in the resolution.
“To anyone suffering from substance use disorders, your communities and loved ones are here for you – we see you and we want to help,” Sen. King said in a Friday press release. “I know the last few years have not been easy. We as a nation are still recovering from the effects of the pandemic, which caused hardships for all Americans and led to an alarming increase in mental health disorders.”
“On top of that, the growing presence of fentanyl, which was responsible for nearly four out of five overdoses last year in Maine, is escalating the already severe opioid epidemic,” King said. During this year’s National Recovery Month, we must recommit ourselves to supporting those struggling with addiction.”
“We must also provide more resources to address our nation’s opioid epidemic, increase mental health services, and strive to become more compassionate. Together, recovery is possible,” he added.
In March of this year, King introduced a bipartisan bill, called the “FDA Accountability for Public Safety Act,” that would increase Congressional oversight on the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of highly addictive opioid pharmaceuticals.
In August, the Maine Senator introduced another bill, the “Life Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment (LifeBOAT) Act,” that would impose a 1-cent stewardship fee on each milligram of active opioid ingredient in prescription pain pills, and expand access to certain substance use treatments under an existing federal grant program.