Press Releases

Kuster, Blunt Rochester Introduce Legislation to Bolster National Response to Addiction and Opioid Crisis

**Senators Elizabeth Warren (MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), and Ed Markey (MA) introduced this legislation in the Senate**

**Kuster is the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force**


Washington, D.C. — Today, Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL), members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, introduced comprehensive legislation to respond to the proliferation of synthetic opioids and provide a long-term solution to the constantly evolving addiction epidemic. The Support, Treatment, and Overdose Prevention of (S.T.O.P) Fentanyl Act of 2021 will bolster surveillance and research, deploy resources to combat overdose deaths, connect individuals with treatment programs, and support ongoing prevention and public safety activities. 


Between 1999 and 2017, almost 400,000 individuals died from an overdose death involving opioids. Despite Congress passing critical legislation to combat this public health emergency — which resulted in a drop in fatal drug overdoses for the first time in 28 years — from 2017 to 2018, fatalities involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl rose 10%, and according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, synthetic opioids increased drug overdose deaths 14-fold from 2012 to 2019.


“As the addiction and opioid epidemic continues to evolve, so must our national response,” said Rep. Kuster, founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force. “Even before the COVID-19 public health crisis, the rise in synthetic opioids demanded a new approach to prevent overdose deaths without reverting to punitive measures that can lead to mass incarceration. I’m proud to introduce this legislation to bolster our national response to the opioid epidemic and connect individuals with treatment and recovery programs. We cannot turn our backs on those struggling with substance abuse, and I look forward to working across the aisle on the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force to address this crisis that impacts communities nationwide.”


“Synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, have had a devastating impact throughout Delaware and across the United States, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “Due to the stark rise in overdose fatalities from fentanyl, it is time for Congress to take long-term action to save lives. I am proud to join my colleague, Congresswoman Annie Kuster, to introduce the S.T.O.P. Fentanyl Act, a public health package which will give communities the tools to comprehensively address this epidemic through education, prevention, and treatment.”


Specifically, the STOP Fentanyl Act would: 

  • Expand Fentanyl Research and Education: Enhances the public health surveillance of fentanyl-related substances, improves efforts to better detect and share data on fentanyl, and pursues more effective Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment programs 
  • Enhance Overdose Prevention: Reports on evidence-based interventions to reduce overdose deaths, improves access to opioid overdose reversal drug Naloxone, establishes Federal Good Samaritan immunity protections for individuals providing care to someone who is overdosing
  • Support Substance Use Disorder Treatment Programs: Removes barriers and expands access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), maintains enhanced telehealth access to opioid use disorder treatment, helps state and community-based organizations address the harms of drug misuse, and funds education for stakeholders on evidence-based treatment for opioid and fentanyl misuse
  • Provide Public Health Data and Training Support: Expands access to public health trainings for law enforcement handling fentanyl-related substances, examines which countries are producing synthetic drugs, and supports public health surveillance at forensic laboratories


The founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force, Rep. Kuster is a leader in Congress in the effort to end the opioid epidemic. Earlier this year, Kuster led 80 lawmakers in a letter to congressional leadership urging the inclusion of $10 billion in funding for mental health disorder and substance use disorder prevention and treatment. Last year, the House passed Kuster-backed opioid legislation to increase access to prevention, treatment and recovery for opioid use disorder, revise regulations to allow practitioners to more easily treat patients dealing with acute withdrawal symptoms, and require drug manufacturers and distributors to stop suspicious shipments of controlled substances.