Letters: Keating the right choice to lead fight against opioid epidemic

I have dedicated my life to helping those are dealing with addiction, working to connect them with resources to aid them in their recovery. Our state has led the way in developing innovative approaches to dealing with substance abuse. And we are fortunate to have the leadership of people like Congressman Bill Keating in Washington to support and strengthen community efforts back here at home and to pursue legislation that has helped to prevent overdose deaths.

Before he was elected to Congress, Keating was a district attorney and he saw firsthand the impact of opioid overdoses not just on a family but on entire communities. He started a heroin task force back in the 2000s, working with treatment professionals, law enforcement officials and community coalitions to pursue strategic plans to prevent substance abuse. Upon his election, Keating started meeting with a bipartisan working group as soon as he got to Congress and introduced first-of-its kind federal legislation to make opioids tamper-resistant (STOPP Act).

Keating realizes that veterans are twice as likely to die from an opioid overdose than the general population. That’s why he introduced the Safe Prescribing for Veterans Act to require VA prescribers to take pain management training and learn safe prescribing practices. He also introduced Co-Prescribing Saves Lives Act to direct federal health agencies to give grants to encourage health care providers to prescribe naloxone along with prescription opioids, when a risk of abuse is indicated.

Keating has secured funding for drug take-back initiatives to ensure unused prescription opioids don’t sit in medicine cabinets. Drug take-backs have been very successful in Fall River and surrounding towns in preventing easy access to dangerous medications. He realizes that there is much more we need to do; with the influx of fentanyl contributing to an uptick in overdoses in Massachusetts, Keating has leveraged his positions on the Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs committees to urge federal partners to do more to prevent these drugs from coming into our country and onto our streets.

Bill knows that we all have a role to play in preventing substance abuse. He has convened several clergy round tables to engage the faith community in this battle. I appreciate his efforts to bring the community together, and to provide leadership on this important issue on the national level. I support his re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, and I urge everyone who has been touched by this epidemic to do so as well.

Laura Washington, Fall River

(This Letter To The Editor appeared in the The Herald News)