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September 16, 2020

As Pandemic Adds New Obstacles for Americans Struggling with Substance Use, King, Capito Introduce Resolution to Designate September “National Recovery Month”

Maine lost 127 lives in the first three months of 2020 due to overdoses, a 23% increase from the final quarter of 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) introduced a bipartisan resolution to officially recognize September as “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month''. The Senators’ resolution comes as the coronavirus pandemic has fueled isolation and anxiety levels among Americans struggling with substance use disorders, and complicated their usual access to lifesaving treatment programs and support systems. Nationwide, it is estimated that drug overdoses have risen by roughly 18 percent compared to the period just prior the pandemic.

“You are not alone. Substance use disorders are cruel, deadly diseases – but with treatment and support, those afflicted with this disease can live full, happy lives,” said Senator King. “Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has introduced new stressors and less access to care. Coronavirus precautions have altered routines and increased social isolation, creating new challenges for those in recovery who are struggling to access treatment or support systems. As the virus continues to rage across the country during this year’s National Recovery Month, Americans of all backgrounds must recommit ourselves to supporting our loved ones and neighbors who are fighting every day to overcome substance use disorders. We will get through this – together.”

“As addiction continues to devastate communities and families throughout West Virginia, we must raise awareness of the available treatment and recovery measures,” said Senator Capito. “In West Virginia—and many communities across this nation—we continue to face the drug crisis on top of the additional challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic. By introducing the National Recovery Month resolution, I am hopeful that more people will become educated about treatment options. This is a critical component of the spectrum of solutions needed to save lives and fight back against the scourge of addiction.”

Senator King has made combating the opioid crisis one of his top priorities in Washington, both before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and since its initial spread across the country. Since the pandemic has separated Americans from their loved ones and made it more difficult to access resources, Senator King has worked to connect with Maine people virtually and raise awareness about resources available to for support. In May, he participated in a video teleconference with Maine Alliance for Addiction and Mental Health Services to connect with their staff that work with Maine’s behavioral health organizations and help those coping with substance use disorders and mental health challenges. To encourage additional supports, Senators King and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) led a group of 20 Senators in a letter to Senate leadership to call for increased investments in mental and behavioral health in future coronavirus relief legislation. Senator King voted for the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act in 2018, sweeping opioid legislation which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and included several King-backed provisions to help Maine families and communities affected by the opioid crisis. The legislation was the result of months of bipartisan hearings and discussions on the opioid crisis. 

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