Addressing the Nation's Opioid Abuse Epidemic

May 26, 2016

Dear Friend,

As I’m sure you know, families in Maryland and across the country are being torn apart by the growing epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose. Like you, I am deeply concerned about this crisis. And to address it, I believe that we need to take a comprehensive approach – one that brings together medical professionals, behavioral health experts, law enforcement and local, state and federal officials – to improve addiction treatment and expand access to prevention services.

To that end, I’ve taken a number of recent steps to advance solutions that tackle America’s opioid epidemic:

  • Passing New Legislation to Help Reduce Opioid Overdose Deaths: A bill that I authored and introduced – the Co-Prescribing to Reduce Overdoses Act – passed the U.S. House of Representatives on May 11. This bipartisan bill will encourage and train health care providers to prescribe overdose reversal drugs, such as Naloxone, when they prescribe common opioids – like pain medication – to patients at risk of addiction and overdose. The Veterans Health Administration distributes Naloxone to all veterans in treatment for a substance use disorder or to those who take high doses of opiates and has successfully shown this strategy reduces opioid overdose deaths. The Co-Prescribing to Reduce Overdoses Act would enable more health care providers across the country to implement these kinds of lifesaving co-prescription programs. To learn more about the bill visit:
  • Participating in the Anne Arundel Medical Center Forum on Opioid Abuse: In early April, I joined Senator Ben Cardin at Anne Arundel Medical Center to meet with a diverse group of government officials, law enforcement and medical experts in an effort to tackle the opioid epidemic that’s sweeping across Maryland and the rest of the country. Many smart and talented people are committed to stopping this epidemic, and I know that by working together, we can help provide Maryland families with the proper resources and care to treat loved ones.

Congressman Sarbanes joins medical experts, law enforcement officials and representatives from local, state and federal government to advance solutions for the opioid epidemic in Maryland and across the country.

  • Briefing Congress on Opioid Overdose and Naloxone: In mid-April, I briefed Members of Congress and staff about how we can expand access to naloxone, a life-saving antidote for heroin overdose. I was joined by a number of local officials and community leaders – including Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen, Susan McNight of Lake County Health Department and Fred Wells Brason II of Project Lazarus – who are spearheading the effort to improve naloxone access and fighting to stop the opioid epidemic.

Congressman Sarbanes briefs Members of Congress and staff about how we can expand access to naloxone.

  • Serving on a Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic: I joined a recently created bipartisan Task Force focused on creating and implementing solutions to end the heroin epidemic with a focus on expanding coordination among local and state officials, law enforcement agencies and medical professionals as well as increasing educational efforts.


Congressman John P. Sarbanes
Maryland’s Third Congressional District