The fight against heroin abuse has taken a personal turn for U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), after addiction claimed the life of a relative earlier this year.
In a call with the press Monday to discuss federal legislation combating the national heroin epidemic, Johnson noted a recent family loss was tied to the drug. “Within the last two months I had a nephew die of a heroin overdose…it began with a sports injury, opiate addiction transferring into heroin, and resulting in his death,” Johnson said.
The Wisconsin Republican declined to provide more specifics about the death. He said it is an example though of why efforts to expand federal backing for programs that help treat addiction and target the drug trade are needed, noting that he’s talked to many people around the state who have been affected in similar ways. “It’s not the reason I want to champion this cause. I want to champion this cause because it’s affecting so many lives,” he said.
A bill passed by the U.S. Senate last week, called the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, is aimed at helping states fight heroin abuse through prescription monitoring, expanding collections sites for old drugs, and providing funding for law enforcement, prevention, and treatment programs. Joining Johnson on Monday’s call, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel called the measure the comprehensive hands-on approach needed to fight the heroin epidemic. “It has law enforcement investigation grant funding, it has prevention funding, it has treatment, and it has substance abuse recovery support funding as well…all of those things are critical,” he said.
Despite receiving strong bipartisan support in the Senate last week, it remains unclear when the U.S. House of Representatives could act on its own version of the proposal.