Kuster Provides Legislative Update on Opioid Epidemic During Visit to Plymouth
Plymouth, NH - Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) met with medical providers, first responders, prevention advocates and other stakeholders to discuss efforts to curb the growing opioid addiction epidemic in the Plymouth area and throughout New Hampshire. The meeting was part of a series of regional briefings Kuster has held across the state to discuss the recently passed Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), and other efforts she has led in Congress to address the heroin crisis.
During the meeting, Kuster discussed resources included in CARA, and she highlighted her legislation, Carl's Law, which would require medication containing opioids to have a warning label on the bottle. Carl's Law is named for Carl Messinger, of Holderness, who overdosed after having his addiction triggered by using a prescribed medication that unknowingly contained codeine.
"Communities across our state are hurting," said Kuster. "Addiction is taking lives all around us and we need to do better job of raising awareness and supporting those in recovery. CARA is an important step forward, but we need additional measures such as Carl's Law to slow the spread of addiction and protect those on recovery."
Kuster was joined at the briefing by Plymouth Police Chief Steve Lefebvre, Deputy Fire Chief Tom Morrison, Deb Naro, Executive Director of Communities for Alcohol- and Drug-free Youth, Brit McDonald, Chief Medical Officer at Speare Memorial Hospital, and Susan Messinger, mother of Carl Messigner, among others.
“I am grateful to Annie for setting up these round table discussions with regard to the opiate epidemic,” said Susan Messinger. “It is a great way for the Plymouth community to hear about what changes are being made at the federal level to combat this epidemic, but also for local groups to discuss new programs that are available to people who are dealing with drug addiction. Our many thanks go out to Annie Kuster for hosting these important discussions."
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), cosponsored by Kuster, was signed into law by President Obama last month, and makes important reforms such as, improving access to life-saving medication like buprenorphine by allowing nurse practitioners to administer the drug, creating new grant programs for treatment facilities, and investing in lifelong recovery efforts. Kuster, who has helped lead the fight in Washington for additional funding to address the heroin crisis in New Hampshire, convened today's meeting in Plymouth.
“As we know all too well, the opioid addiction epidemic is taking a devastating toll on our state, killing loved ones and tearing apart communities,” Kuster said. "The CARA legislation marked a step forward in the battle against the opioid crisis, but it's clear from what I heard today that much more must be done. We need to come together in Congress and pass desperately needed emergency funding so that those working on the ground to address the epidemic have the resources they need."
As the cofounder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic, Congresswoman Kuster was instrumental in the fight to pass 18 bills in the House to address the opioid crisis. In recognition of her leadership on this issue, Kuster was appointed to the conference committee that worked to combine the House bills with a Senate counterpart to produce the final version of CARA that President Obama signed into law.