U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th)

Every year people all over the country acknowledge National Recovery Month, which recognizes the many thousands of people who have successfully recovered from substance use.  There are millions of people at 12-step classes, alcoholics anonymous and other recovery programs meeting every hour of the day and every day of the week in America.

It reminds me of what Henry David Thoreau said.

“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor.”

National Recovery Month encourages these step-by-step endeavors and helps to bring awareness and substantial change in our nation and in our communities about people trying to get their lives back on track. 

While we are thankful for the successes, we must also recognize that more needs to be done.

The statistics are stunning. 

Prince’s death from an opiate overdose in April 2016 made national headlines. His death was among the many thousands of deaths related to over-the-counter drugs and illegal substances like heroin. Many lives were lost because help never came or came too late.

The Center for Disease Control reported that from 2001 to 2014, there was a six-fold increase in the total number of heroin deaths, a three- to four-fold increase in the total number of cocaine deaths, a 42 percent increase in the total number of deaths from pain relievers and a two- to eight-fold increase in the total number of opioid deaths.

In 2014, an astounding 900,000 adults and adolescents at least12 years old used heroin. At a minimum, 900,000 families are impacted because a loved one is addicted to drugs.

It is clear. Heroin kills. Cocaine kills. Over-the-counter opiates kill.

A Pew Research Center national survey found that 67 percent of Americans support providing treatment for those who use illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

Public opinion in local communities has shifted to such an extent that voters will support using taxpayer dollars for drug treatment. In Cook County Illinois, 76 percent of the voters overwhelmingly supported a substance use treatment referendum.

Cook County voters, who are representative of the United States population, support Treatment on Demand.

National Recovery Month means different things to the researcher, to the policy maker, to the community groups and to the people in the neighborhoods. But for the individuals in recovery, National Recovery Month is very personal.

I urge my colleagues and people all over America to join me in applauding people in recovery for their conscious efforts to remain sober and for being an inspiration for others who deeply desire to follow in their footsteps.

I urge my colleagues to support legislation that will transform the lives of individuals — from current addicts to those in recovery.

— U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th)