In December I wrote a letter addressing the ongoing opioid crisis, sharing with you my son Joshua’s struggle with addiction.
First, I want to sincerely thank everyone for the outpouring of support and concern, and report that Josh is doing very well in his recovery. Since I shared Josh’s story, so many neighbors, friends, and strangers have told me about their own loved ones who have faced similar crises.
I believe that by working together we can eliminate the stigma of addiction and focus our efforts on taking a number of practical measures that are needed to combat the crisis that is gripping our Commonwealth and our country. I’m happy to report a number of significant measures have received bi-partisan support in this year’s General Assembly session and will soon become law:
-HB 1453 increases the number of people authorized to train others to administer naloxone, a drug used in situations of opioid overdose. Much like an Epi-Pen, naloxone is incredibly important to have on hand to save lives in emergency overdose situations.
-HB 2161 creates an opportunity to develop educational guidelines for health care providers to continue learning about safe prescribing standards and the appropriate use of opioids. One reason we are in this crisis is because of the over-availability of opioid painkillers and other like drugs. By continuing the education of our health care providers when it comes to these substances, fewer people will become addicted.
-HB 2162 convenes a work group to study the barriers to treatment of substance-exposed infants in Virginia. Treating adults is much different than treating newborns and infants who are struggling with addiction, and the Commonwealth needs to find the best ways to help these children lead healthy, successful lives.
-HB 2165 requires that opioids only be prescribed via electronic prescription. This will help increase security and make sure that opioid prescriptions are being filled exactly as a doctor intended.
I feel each of the bills passed this year play an important role in reversing the disturbing trend of opioid addiction and collectively will make a difference. I will continue to monitor the opioid crisis and work with all applicable agencies and elected officials to gauge the success of the above measures and to take any additional actions. Addiction is a non-partisan issue and I applaud members of both parties for coming together to work on these critical pieces of legislation.
If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, please know that help is available and that you are not alone in this time of crisis. If I can be of any assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact my office.
Delegate John Bell
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