WASHINGTON, D.C.— Congressman Tom Rice (SC-07) is working to combat the heroin crisis affecting South Carolina and the country through the co-sponsorship of H.R. 953, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA).

“It is time to fight the heroin and prescription drug abuse that is tearing apart families in South Carolina and across our country,” said Rice. “By supporting a comprehensive and aggressive plan to combat this drug crisis, we can help people rebuild their lives and prevent others from struggling with addiction.

“Through education programs and task forces that target prevention and focus on public safety, we can aid recovery and get people back on their feet,” Rice concluded.

Heroin is considered the most addictive substance in the world and is cheaper to obtain than prescription narcotics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled in the United States between 2002 and 2013. In South Carolina, the number of opioid-related deaths increased by 118 percent from 2013 to 2014.

H.R. 953 directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create an Inter-Agency Task Force to outline best practices for pain management and develop a strategy to prevent the over-prescription of pain medication. The bill also authorizes the Attorney General to award grants to states, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies for training in the use of naloxone, medication used to treat narcotic overdose in emergency situations. The bill expands educational efforts on a state and federal level to create awareness about drug addiction and address the dangers associated with different kinds of medication. Additionally, the bill includes provisions to aid veterans struggling with addiction through the establishment of veteran treatment and rehabilitation programs and peer to peer services.

By stopping the flow of drugs over state borders and increasing prevention and treatment programs, Congressman Rice believes this bill will help the families of South Carolina and those across the country struggling with addiction.

A companion bill passed the Senate on March 10, 2016 by a vote of 94-1.