Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) last week sent a letter to the head of the new White House Commission to Combat Drug Abuse, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, urging him to prioritize funding for drug treatment and prevention initiatives as the commission begins its work.
Luján wrote: “Congress took an important first step to address the opioid abuse epidemic by providing additional resources to states to support treatment and prevention . . . Congress has already delivered the first portion of this funding, $500 million for the 2017 fiscal year. We must build on this progress by ensuring a seamless path forward for the next $500 million.”
Last Congress, Luján introduced legislation which called for additional resources for treatment and prevention programs to address the opioid abuse problem. He was instrumental in securing the first installment of federal funding for 2017 and is now fighting to secure the second installment of $500 million, or even increase funding to combat the drug abuse problem in 2018.
Both Luján’s and Christie’s home states of New México and New Jersey have been deeply impacted by the opioid abuse problem, with both states listed in the top third of all states in terms of drug-related deaths. New Jersey also had one of the highest increases in drug overdoses in recent years, which indicates the problem is growing worse there.
The letter goes on to say: “Multiple generations of Americans have been hurt by this crisis because we have historically failed to make the necessary investments in treatment and prevention . . . I stand ready to work with you on this important issue, but I feel strongly that the problem demands more than rhetoric and good intentions – we need action and we need resources if we are to turn the corner on this crisis.”