Durbin Highlights Successes In Senate's Bipartisan Opioid Package

Bill includes Durbin initiatives on addressing child trauma and allowing DEA to stem the oversupply of painkillers

CHICAGO – As the Senate prepares to vote on a major legislative package aimed at addressing the opioid crisis, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today outlined several key initiatives he included in the bill to help address both causes and effects of the nation’s worst-ever drug overdose epidemic.  The legislative package, which is expected to pass the Senate on Monday, includes major provisions from Durbin’s bipartisan bill to strengthen the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) ability to adjust quotas determining the number of opioid drugs allowed to be produced in the United States each year and his bill to better support children who have experienced traumatic events. 

“Our nation is in the midst of the worst drug epidemic in its history. Between alarming statistics, newspaper headlines, and heart-wrenching meetings with grieving families—I’m glad we are finally doing something to tackle this crisis,” Durbin said. “This bipartisan package includes several important initiatives that I’ve authored and supported – from strengthening the DEA’s ability to adjust quotas, addressing trauma that can lead to future drug abuse and violence, supporting research into non-addictive pain medication, and creating new grant programs that provide naloxone for first responders. There is still much more work to be done, but this legislation is an important step in addressing the aspects of this crisis.”

The legislative package includes Durbin’s Opioid Quota Reform Act, which he introduced with Senators John Kennedy (R-LA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). The legislation will enhance the DEA’s existing opioid quota-setting authority by allowing the DEA to consider addiction, overdose, and public health effects when setting opioid production quota levels. 

The package also includes several key provisions from Durbin’s Trauma Informed Care for Children and Families Act designed to support children who have been exposed to any Adverse Childhood Experience (“ACE,” such as violence or parental drug addiction), which can lead to future drug use as a way to cope. Individuals with multiple ACEs are ten times more likely to misuse illicit narcotics. Because of this link, the Senate opioid package includes major reforms to better identify and support children who have experienced trauma by:

  • Creating a federal task force to coordinate federal efforts, establish a national strategy, and recommend best practices for identify, referring, and supporting children that have experienced trauma
  • Promoting trauma-informed care in dozens of additional federal grant programs
  • Creating a mental health in schools pilot program to integrate services, and increase student access to care
  • Investing in the mental health workforce by expanding the National Health Service Corps loan repayment program, and enhancing masters-level graduate school education for behavioral health and social work professionals

The Senate package includes several other key provisions that Durbin has supported, including supporting research into non-addictive pain medication, improving screening at the border and in mail packages for fentanyl, and creating several new grant programs that support naloxone for first responders, expanded treatment and recovery, and care for mothers and babies born with drug withdrawal.

Every day, more than 115 Americans die from an opioid overdose.  In the past three years, there has been a 53 percent spike in drug overdose deaths in Illinois, with more than 2,400 lives lost in 2016.