According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 90 Americans die each day after overdosing on opioids. Addiction to opioids has become a serious public health issue in the U.S., creating an economic burden of more than $75.8 billion each year. Rep. Alex Mooney (R-West Virginia) joins Robert Traynham to discuss the PROP Act (Promoting Responsible Opioid Prescribing Act). Click here
for part 1 of Combatting Opioid Abuse.
Interview recorded September 6, 2017.
Read a partial transcript of this interview below:
Traynham: Congressman, you touched on something I want to double down on. I remember speaking to a friend of mine about the opioid situation a couple months ago, and she wanted to change the subject very quickly. She clearly felt very uncomfortable talking about this. And I got the impression because, "Oh, that?s the neighbors down the street. That?s not my problem." How do we make sure that everyone realizes no matter who you are, no matter where you live, no matter what your background is, you have skin in the game here. How do we convince those individuals that this is not Mary's problem down the street? It?s also your problem and you and our problem as well.
Mooney: Well, you know, that?s a great point. Hardly a meeting goes by in my office where I might be talking about a different issue, and then it trails off into a drug-addiction issue of a family or a loved one. I?d say most Americans know somebody, even if it?s not their own immediate family -- a neighbor, someone in the neighborhood, from school, from work -- who has had drug-addiction issues. I think that?s clear. But a lot of times, folks don?t know how to identify it early so they can get the prevention and the treatment before the addiction settles in very strong. So I really think the country has seen this, and employers that I talk to have a hard time, oftentimes, finding folks who can pass the drug test. So folks are aware of it, but you?re right in that it?s something that they?re afraid to talk about. We have to have this conversation in the families first and foremost, in my view, but also in schools and in other areas.
Traynham: Congressman, I think it?s really great that you and your colleagues are understanding that this is a national problem. As I mentioned, the President has mentioned this as a national crisis, if you will. But I guess the question is for the folks that are watching at home or perhaps maybe watching on their smart device, they?re saying, "I hear this. This is all great at the Washington level, but it doesn?t really help me at the state and local level. I need help now." What would you say to your constituent or anyone out there, quite frankly, who?s watching the program that says, "I need help today, not tomorrow, today"?
Mooney: Well, that would be getting treatment facilities opened. And that has been a concern and a problem. Local communities can work on that. States can work on that. The federal government can provide some funding for that, but there needs to be a push in the local areas to get communities starting. In one of the cities I represent, they?ve had a hard time getting housing so folks can get treatment cause local people opposed it. They didn?t want it in their neighborhood or in their area.
Traynham: Not in my backyard.
Mooney: Yeah, right. Well, you have to have these things. You have to have it. So let?s kind of get over that stigma and be supportive. I mean, it?s just something everyone has to realize. This is for the benefit of our communities and our families. It may not be you or your loved one today, but tomorrow it could be. And certainly, it affects your community. When you have folks that are addicted to drugs, they often resort to crime. Well, that?s gonna affect you. I know a lot of folks who don?t deal with drug-addiction issues directly in their own families, but they?ve been broken into so folks can support their drug habit. Well, that is going to affect you. So let?s come together as a community, support the rehab, support the treatment, try to identify it, and frankly, report people. It?s a hard thing to do to report a loved one or a friend who has drug-addiction issues. But if you really love them, you should get them the help they need now.
Traynham: And who should they call? Is it the police office? Is it their local protection services, or 911?
Mooney: The Department of Social Services or the police. Frankly, you might have to call the police.
Traynham: Sure. Congressman Alex Mooney, Republican from West Virginia, thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate it.
Mooney: Sure thing.
Traynham: And thank you for joining us, as well.For more great conversation swith leaders in your community and across the nation,visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I'm Robert Traynham.