Fitzpatrick Announces Bipartisan, Bicameral Effort to Raise Awareness for National Recovery Month Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
LANGHORNE, PA—Today, September 3rd, 2020, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) joined a group of bipartisan, bicameral members to announce an historic effort to highlight National Recovery Month in Congress throughout the month of September, including a Congressional Day of Action on September 16th.
The group of legislators includes:
- Bipartisan Opioid Task Force, led by Co-Chairs Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Annie Kuster (NH-02)
- Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus, led by Co-Chairs Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) and Tim Ryan (OH-13) and Vice Co-Chairs Dave Joyce (OH-14) and Paul Tonko (NY-20)
- Bipartisan Freshmen Working Group on Addiction, led by Reps. Denver Riggleman (VA-05) and David Trone (MD-06)
- Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
The effort by the legislators will include virtual and in-person events throughout the month to elevate voices in recovery as well as a Congressional Day of Action on September 16th, where legislators will lead a virtual ‘Congress Goes Purple’ initiative. This is the second year of ‘Congress Goes Purple.
“The opioid crisis has affected every corner of the United States, depriving individuals of full and healthy lives. Fighting against the opioid epidemic and addiction crisis requires a clear and bipartisan approach that responds to the real-world concerns expressed by local lawmakers, community leaders and healthcare professionals across the country,” said Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to join this bipartisan, and bicameral, group of my colleagues to highlight the historic efforts being made throughout National Recovery Month.”
“Addiction and substance misuse are serious health issues that are responsible for the loss of tens of thousands of American lives each year,” said Kuster. “Far too many families in the Granite State and across the nation have lost a loved one to this public health crisis, but recovery is possible — millions of people have been able to overcome substance use disorder and reclaim their lives. We must ensure that all Americans have access to the substance use disorder treatment, health care, and resources they need to get well and thrive. I’m glad to stand with my colleagues as we announce this important initiative. I’m proud to serve as co-chair of the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force alongside Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, where we continue working to identify solutions and take action to ensure that those who are struggling with addiction have access to the support and care they need to make full recoveries.”
“The perils of the pandemic have only increased hurdles to weakening the effect of the opioid crisis on our citizens. Americans are now more likely to die from opioid-related overdoses than from car accidents, and fentanyl is the drug most responsible for fatalities,” said Sensenbrenner. “Protecting our communities from illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogues will require an all-hands-on-deck effort to help America confront the opioid epidemic.”
“While our country works to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot lose sight of the opioid epidemic that continues to also take the lives of too many in my state of Ohio and across the nation. For those who struggle with substance use disorders and mental illness, COVID-19 has worsened existing conditions and created new struggles,” said Ryan. “As Co-Chair of the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus, I know how important it is to make sure every person has access to quality and affordable treatment for substance abuse. As a community, we must come together to educate and raise awareness about addiction in hope of decreasing the negative stigma that continues to exist today. I would like to extend all my hope and support for those who are continuing to struggle with substance abuse as they move forward on this difficult journey of recovery.”
“Issues surrounding addiction and substance abuse disorder are complex and an unfortunate challenge for so many families across our country, especially during the ongoing pandemic,” said Joyce. “COVID-19 has brought fear, uncertainty, stress, and many other overwhelming emotions to those who face the day-to-day reality of overcoming addiction and made it more difficult for them to access care. Now more than ever, we must support our loved ones, friends, and neighbors who are struggling with substance abuse disorder and celebrate those living in recovery. I’m proud to partner with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to highlight the importance of National Recovery Month, which will help us do just that.”
“In the midst of the COVID pandemic, we cannot lose sight of the multiple substance use epidemics that took over 70,000 lives in 2019 and threaten to take many more lives this year,” said Tonko “The brave men and women walking the path of recovery from substance use are heroic. As we highlight National Recovery Month in Congress, I will continue to fight tooth and nail every day for policies that make the journey of recovery a reality for more individuals.”
"September is National Recovery Month, when we bring awareness to the addiction epidemic and elevate the voices of those it affects. I’m proud to join Rep. David Trone and my colleagues on the Freshman Working Group on Addiction as we work to address this epidemic,” said Riggleman. “The ‘Congress Goes Purple’ Initiative is an important effort in helping bring awareness to this important effort and help those dealing with opioid addiction issues."
“This month we are coming together across party lines and from every corner of this country to stand united in support for those in recovery and to elevate the voices of people who are fighting this horrible disease,” said Trone. “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented some serious challenges to those who are in recovery or seeking treatment for addiction, and this month we need to listen and learn how we can support them and their families. I want to thank this bipartisan group of legislators for coming together in the strongest showing of support for those who have been affected by addiction. The only way we are going to put an end to the addiction crisis is by working together.”
“Recovering from addiction is a huge challenge under the best of circumstances, but even more so with the heightened anxiety and reduced access to in-person services during the pandemic,” said Blunt. “We worked in a bipartisan, bicameral way to quickly get emergency resources out to states and organizations to help them support people in recovery. I hope National Recovery Month will give us an opportunity to continue raising awareness around this issue and the need for a sustained federal commitment to ensuring people suffering from a mental health or addiction issue are able to get the care they need.”
“This year’s National Recovery Month comes at a time when so many families are in urgent need of help during this pandemic. We need this same sense of urgency in funding behavioral health services as we do with physical health services. While we recognize the courage of Americans in recovery and the progress we have made, we need to recommit ourselves to ensuring that no person struggling with mental illness or addiction goes without the treatment they need,” said Stabenow.
One in seven individuals experience addiction at some point throughout their lifespan, and one in two know someone impacted by addiction. But many who experience addiction get treatment and seek recovery. 20.2 million and 30.8 million Americans identify as someone in recovery from a drug/alcohol use problem and mental health issue, respectively.
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges to those in recovery, caused in part by social isolation, the inability to meet in-person for peer support groups, and difficulty receiving in-person treatment. Preliminary numbers from the CDC released in July show that in 2019 over 70,000 people died of an overdose -- the highest in our nation’s history. Experts expect a record number of deaths in 2020, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Recovery Month is held every September to increase awareness for mental health and substance use disorders and encourage those in need of treatment to seek recovery. This year, the theme is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Celebrating Connections,” which focuses on the challenges those in recovery are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The group of legislators is partnering with The Faces and Voices of Recovery to highlight awareness and resources for those in recovery during National Recovery Month.