WASHINGTON — Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the Synthetic Drug Awareness Act, a bipartisan bill sponsored by U.S. Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Trey Gowdy (R-SC) that will direct the Surgeon General to prepare a report on the public health effects of synthetic drug use by 12 to 18 year olds in America.
Nationwide, the drug overdose death rate has more than doubled during the past decade among younger Americans, and has particularly increased among adolescents. More than 90% of adults who develop a substance abuse disorder begin using before they are 18. From 2014 to 2015, the death rate from synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, increased by 72.2%.
Rep. Jeffries said: “We are in the midst of a devastating opioid epidemic in America. In this regard, our nation’s children are getting hooked on life-altering synthetic drugs such as fentanyl and artificial marijuana at an alarming rate. We must cripple this crisis with an all-hands-on-deck effort at all levels of government. The Surgeon General’s report mandated by this legislation will provide a clear analysis of the problem so we can effectively extinguish the scourge of synthetic drug abuse by younger Americans. Rep. Gowdy and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle should be commended for their leadership.”
Rep. Gowdy said: “We’ve seen far too many young men and women die from synthetic drug addiction, but are still lacking the data needed to craft the unique types of public health and law enforcement approaches that could end this crisis. These types of drugs present an evolving threat and we need to know more about them, which is why this legislation is so important in protecting our children and saving families from the devastation that can come with addiction.”
Supporters of the bill include: the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, College on Problems of Drug Dependence, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Healthy Teen Network, Mental Health America, National Association of County and City Health Officials and the National Association of Police Organizations.