January 27, 2016

Whitehouse Brings Rhode Islander to Testify Before Judiciary Committee on Addiction Crisis

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse welcomed Rhode Island’s Linda Hurley, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Clinical Services at CODAC Behavioral Healthcare, to testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the ongoing opioid drug abuse and overdose crisis unfolding throughout the country.  Whitehouse, a member of the Judiciary Committee and author of bipartisan legislation to combat opioid addiction, invited Hurley to discuss the challenges CODAC and other behavioral health care providers face in caring for Rhode Islanders addicted to opioid drugs.

“Addiction to prescription opioid drugs and heroin has taken too many lives in Rhode Island.  This crisis spans urban centers and sleepy rural towns and touches people in all walks of life.  I am very grateful to Linda for appearing before the Committee and sharing her insights.  I am also grateful for the heroic work of CODAC and everyone in Rhode Island’s recovery community to fight this illness,” said Whitehouse, whose Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act would put in place a wide range of incentives and strategies to combat addiction and overdose.

In her testimony, Hurley discussed the challenges of treating patients with opioid dependence, including the lack of resources for the most effective treatment options—like medication-assisted treatment—and reaching the wide range of patient groups affected by the condition.  She also addressed the need for better prescription drug monitoring programs and other prevention strategies.  A copy of her as-prepared testimony can be found here.

According to an analysis published last year by the Providence Journal, Rhode Island’s rate of opioid-related overdose deaths is 20.4 per 100,000 people, compared to 14.9 in Massachusetts and 15.3 in Connecticut.  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the national rate in 2013 was 7.7 deaths per 100,000 people.


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