WASHINGTON, D.C. –   U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) today released the following statement after voting in favor of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which passed the Senate today with strong bipartisan support:

“Opioid abuse is a tragic epidemic across the country that tears apart families, devastates our communities, and causes unnecessary loss of precious life. Like many Iowans, I am gravely concerned about the increase in the abuse of both prescription and illicit drugs like heroin.

“Equipping local law enforcement, health care stakeholders, and other key groups in the community with the tools they need to improve communication and coordination in the fight against opioid abuse is critical.

“The bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, guided through the Senate by Senator Chuck Grassley, aims to do just that. This legislation promotes programs to help increase education and prevention efforts, as well as offers opportunities to train first responders in using drugs to reverse an opioid overdose. It also provides critical treatment and recovery options for individuals suffering from addiction.

“I’m pleased with today’s important step in combating this terrible problem, and I urge the president to sign CARA into law as soon as possible.”

Iowa Drug Abuse Statistics:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 264 people in Iowa died of drug overdoses in 2014.
  • In 2014, 1 out of every 11,000 deaths could be traced to drug overdoses in Iowa.
  • According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a total of 94,000 Iowans used prescription pain medications for non-medical purposes in 2014, including 10,000 youth (ages 12-17).
  • In 2014, 52,000 Iowa residents needed treatment for illegal drug use but failed to receive it, including 7,000 youth (ages 12-17).
  • In 2014, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 1,555 opioid-related emergency department visits compared to 519 in 2006.

###