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September 29, 2021

With Overdoses Rising Amidst Pandemic, Senators King and Capito Lead Resolution Designating September as “National Recovery Month”

Maine lost a record 504 lives in 2020 due to overdoses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), today introduced a bipartisan resolution recognizing September, 2021 as “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month.” The Senators’ resolution comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to make substance abuse treatment, prevention, and recovery more difficult – isolating many Americans struggling with mental health challenges and substance use disorders, and separating them from their support networks. In 2020, over 90,000 Americans died from drug related overdoses, including more than 500 in Maine; both numbers represent new records for the highest year of overdose deaths ever recorded. In addition to Senators King and Capito, the resolution was cosponsored by Senators Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

“To anyone suffering from substance abuse disorders, your communities and loved ones are here for you – we see you,” said Senator King. “Under the best of conditions, substance use disorders can be isolating, deadly, and difficult diseases. In Maine, and across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic introduced new stresses and took away access to care, resulting in the deadliest year on record for drug overdoses. As the Delta variant continues to surge and the virus nears new daily peaks, it is clear that we need to step up our efforts to confront this crisis within the pandemic. During this year’s National Recovery Month, we must recommit ourselves to supporting those struggling with substance use disorders and provide them with the resources they need. Recovery is possible – and we are here to help you, however we can.”

“As addiction continues to devastate communities and families throughout West Virginia, it’s incredibly important that we raise awareness of the available treatment and recovery measures. I am hopeful that with the introduction of the National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month Resolution, 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, and I am proud to lead my colleagues in introducing this resolution,” Senator Capito said.

“The drug epidemic continues to ravage our communities across West Virginia. Last year alone, we lost 1,377 West Virginians to drug related overdoses, and the COVID-19 pandemic made this heartbreaking issue much worse,” said Senator Manchin. “Every West Virginian is impacted by substance use disorder, and it is our responsibility to provide our family, friends and neighbors with the support and recovery services they need and deserve. I am proud to join my bipartisan colleagues in designating September as National Recovery Month to help bring awareness to this crisis facing so many of our fellow Americans and West Virginians.”

“Substance use disorders and the torment of addiction are incredibly painful and personal for many New Mexico families. It’s crucial that Americans who are struggling know that they are not alone – and assistance is available,” said Senator Luján. “I’m proud to be leading this resolution with my colleagues to designate September as National Recovery Month, and I’ll continue pushing for additional support for treatment and prevention efforts.” 

“Americans battling substance use and mental health problems faced new, difficult challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.  That’s why I’m glad to stand with my colleagues in recognizing National Recovery Month,” said Senator Whitehouse, who authored the groundbreaking Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and CARA 2.0 recovery laws. “Those who walk the hard but noble path to recovery deserve our encouragement and admiration.  We’ve made progress to help, but there’s still much more to do to expand access to treatment and ensure everyone in recovery has the support they need.”

During the COVID–19 pandemic, increased isolation and reduced access to treatment programs have contributed to an increase in individuals reporting anxiety and depression disorders. Over the course of the last 18 months, 13% of Americans reported starting or increasing substance use.

Senator King has made combating the opioid crisis one of his highest 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. Earlier this year, he urged President Biden to request robust funding and increase the federal investment in our nation’s response to the ongoing opioid and substance use disorder (SUD) epidemic. In September 2020, he and Senator Capito introduced the same bipartisan resolution to officially recognize the month as “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month'' and focused his September 2020 podcast on recovery from SUDs amid the pandemic. 

Last week, Senator King announced almost $1 million in American Rescue Plan funds to combat the opioid crisis by supporting mental health and substance use treatment.

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