WASHINGTON, D.C. (GRAY) According to the CDC, more than 47,000 Americans died of an overdose involving opioids in 2017. Monday, a congressional task force met on Capitol Hill to discuss ways to curb that number.
Task force co-founder Rep. Annie Kuster says their biggest goal this year will be to focus on treatment.
"We have education, prevention, increasing access to treatment, but we've got to tackle that long-term recovery," said Kuster, D-New Hampshire. "There's a very high rate of relapse in this disease, and we've got to get to the bottom of what are the obstacles."
Kuster says hiring more people to work with those battling addiction is also a priority, and Congressman Tom O'Halleran agrees.
"If we recognize today that we need more people, and they aren't out there now, if we don't take immediate action it's going to take four years to get them out there and addressing these issues," said O'Halleran, D-Arizona. "That's too long, so we have to start now and start funding these programs."
The Bipartisan Heroin Task Force was started in 2015, and Kuster says they have helped pass close to 100 different bills addressing the crisis.