Last year, Senator Markey and Leader McConnell originally called for a Surgeon General’s report on the opioid epidemic

Washington (November 16, 2016) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today released the following statement after the Surgeon General released a new report, “Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health”. In 2015, Senator Markey and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) first called on the Department of Health and Human Services to issue a Surgeon General’s Report and Call to Action on prescription opioid and heroin abuse.

“As the nation struggles with an unprecedented opioid epidemic, this report is a missed opportunity. Leader McConnell and I requested this report to document and outline a national effort to address the prescription drug and heroin crisis. The magnitude and scope of the opioid crisis required a more robust discussion and set of recommendations for how the nation should combat an epidemic that currently takes more lives than auto accidents or gun violence. The deaths caused by prescription drug, heroin and fentanyl overdoses are growing exponentially every year, yet this report fails to provide any detailed roadmap for how best to curb opioid addiction. The magnitude and scope of the current opioid epidemic demanded a far more detailed discussion if we are to prevent the crisis from becoming the greatest public health threat facing our nation in this early century.


“I am hopeful that this report will serve as a call to all Americans to change the way we address substance misuse and substance use disorders in America. As a nation, we must approach and treat addiction like the disease it is. The physical toll addiction takes on Americans makes this a health imperative. The costs of addiction to society make this an economic imperative. And the human duty to provide care and hope to those suffering from addiction makes this a moral imperative.

“This report serves as a valuable inventory of the science of addiction, providing robust discussion of effective treatment modalities and data around recovery strategies that work. It also makes a strong argument for the need to integrate physical and mental health care into treatment, as substance use disorders are frequently dual diagnosed with other mental health conditions. This report should serve as a powerful educational moment for the American people, as well as an advocacy tool to inform and inspire action on substance abuse. The public health, medical, corporate, and prevention, recovery and treatment communities should arm themselves with the information in this report and reach out to their members and supporters to promote awareness and alter points of view.  


“We are in a twilight struggle – a struggle against a pharmaceutical industry and an FDA that promote addictive opioid painkillers without consequence, a struggle against the rise of the synthetic opioid fentanyl and the overseas agents that make it, a struggle against insurance companies that erect barriers to coverage for addiction. I will work to ensure that the opioid crisis remain front and center in this national discussion on addiction. That begins with the push for immediate funding to our cities and states to combat the opioid epidemic. We have a few weeks left in the lame duck session to show the American people that both parties in Congress recognize the urgency of the opioid crisis, and to pass legislation that includes substantial new funding for treatment and recovery. Congress cannot afford to make any more empty promises about funding to families suffering from the disease of opioid addiction.”