Press Release

March 10, 2016
Cardin Says Senate-Passed Bill to Address Opioid Crisis Praiseworthy but Incomplete

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Health Care Subcommittee, praised Senate passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 (CARA), while calling for additional funding for the federal-state partnerships established in the legislation.


“The epidemic of opioid abuse and addiction is a public health crisis that hurts every state in our country, and every region of Maryland. Some parts of our state have some of the highest per capita rates of heroin and opioid drug use in the United States. Facing this challenge goes beyond law enforcement and must include treatment centers, prevention, addressing overdoses and providing support for those in or seeking recovery. A comprehensive approach requires the federal government work as an active partner with our states, providing adequate resources to address the current and emerging trends in opioid and heroin abuse.


The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 is a promising step forward in addressing our nation’s opioid and heroin crisis, but it doesn’t back up promised support with federal funding for state-led treatment, prevention and law enforcement programs. Despite bipartisan efforts to create a comprehensive framework for stemming the current wave of use and abuse, an amendment to add $600 million in emergency funding that would directly aid health and law enforcement professionals who are on the front lines of the addiction battle was blocked on party-line votes.  My hope is that we can better address the funding for these programs in the future; we cannot allow our commitment to public health to be stymied by partisan gridlock.”


Drug overdose deaths have exceeded car crashes as the number one cause of injury death in the United States. Each day 120 Americans die of drug overdoses; two deaths every hour. According to the CDC, 1,070 people in Maryland died of drug overdoses in 2014. In 2014, 17.4 out of every 100,000 deaths could be traced to drug overdoses in Maryland. Drug overdose deaths rose by 19.2% from 2013 to 2014 in Maryland.


According to SAMHSA, a total of 223,000 people in Maryland used prescription pain medications for non-medical purposes in 2014, including 21,000 youth (ages 12-17).  In 2014, 123,000 Maryland residents needed treatment for illegal drug use but failed to receive it, including 16,000 youth (ages 12-17).