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Reps. Trahan, Joyce draft bipartisan letter urging Trump to lower flags to half-staff for Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 31

August 19, 2020
In The News

Reps. Lori Trahan of Massachusetts and John Joyce of Pennsylvania led a bipartisan effort this week to urge President Donald Trump to honor substance use disorder victims by lowering American flags to half-staff on Aug. 31, which is International Overdose Awareness Day.

The Democratic Trahan and Republican Joyce on Monday drafted a letter making the request to the White House. The letter was signed by 37 House colleagues of both parties, including nearly the entire Massachusetts delegation: Reps. Katherine Clark; Bill Keating; Joe Kennedy III; Stephen Lynch; Jim McGovern; Richard Neal; and Ayanna Pressley.

“This month, we will observe International Overdose Awareness Day, which is held in remembrance of the lives lost due to the disease of addiction,” the lawmakers wrote. “This crisis has claimed over 700,000 lives just last year and has shown no indication of declining.”

The lawmakers said overdoes deaths were rising across the U.S., where more than 700,000 have died from drug overdoses over the last 20 years. Thirty states show “distressing spikes in overdose deaths over the past few months,” the lawmakers added.

“We are far from claiming victory in this epidemic, which has only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic,” they said.

In a news release, Cheryl Juaire, who has partnered with Trahan on addressing substance abuse issues, said she was hopeful the president would agree that “this is an issue worth recognizing nationally and that this is just the first step in addressing the stigma surrounding substance use disorder.”

Juaire’s son, Corey, died of an opioid overdoes at the age of 23. Trahan’s office said that Juaire, who was Trahan’s guest at the State of the Union earlier this year, “has worked tirelessly to break down the stigma surrounding substance use disorder, which often prevents individuals from seeking care.”

Trahan noted that she’s working on multiple bipartisan efforts on the issue, including through legislation to bolster addiction treatment, pushing for additional funds for long-term care in recovery centers and training for first responders in overdose reversal drugs and introducing the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act alongside Sen. Elizabeth Warren to provide $100 billion to clinics and community organizations focused on prevention, treatment and recovery.