[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]My name is Daniel Blackman, candidate to serve Forsyth County, Georgia in Senate District 27. I would like to share my plan to Combat Heroin and prescription drug abuse, because it is plaguing our communities, and robbing the lives of many of our children. Let me be clear, I am committed to the continued support of the Forsyth County Drug Awareness Council, Law Enforcement, First Responders, our hospitals, and the educators throughout the Forsyth County School District.
Together, we must END the stigma of addiction and rid our communities and schools of heroin and other opioids by creating and promoting drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.
So let me take this opportunity to share 4 of my Drug Policy Positions:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_tta_accordion style=”flat” spacing=”10″ gap=”10″ active_section=”9″ collapsible_all=”true”][vc_tta_section tab_id=”1477087109118-aa889528-7ad2″ title=”#1. WE MUST REMOVE BARRIERS TO ACCESS FOR TREATMENT AND MEDICATION. ” el_class=”blue”][vc_column_text]Expand Support for Georgians in Recovery, Increase Treatment Beds and Add Program Slots for Substance abuse throughout Georgia.
- By accomplishing this, we will Expand Addiction Treatment throughout Forsyth County and the rest of Georgia while working towards ending Insurance Authorization Barriers, allowing Immediate Access to Treatment.People suffering from addiction who seek treatment need immediate access to services, but prior authorization requirements by insurance companies can become a hindrance to admission to inpatient programs. We need legislation requiring insurers to cover necessary inpatient services for the treatment of substance use disorders for as long as an individual needs them. IT ALSO WILL HELP US where Greater Access to Drug Treatment Medications is concerned. People seeking medication to manage withdrawal symptoms or maintain recovery must often request prior approval from their insurance company, which slows or stops the individual from getting needed medication. We need to consider legislation prohibiting insurers from requiring prior approval for emergency supplies of these medications.
- Another solution I would like for us to consider requires us finding COMMON GROUND. While Georgians are split on the Affordable Care Act, the reality is that we must leverage the Affordable Care Act to Advance reasonable and effective Health-Based Drug Policies. YOU SEE, THE Affordable Care Act presents a remarkable opportunity to shift drug policy towards a public health framework. Nationally, partnerships have addressed drug abuse and mass incarceration by promoting the idea of, “Healthcare (and) Not Handcuffs”, which puts our tax-dollars to work for Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Reform. What I want you to know is that I am committed to ensuring that drug abuse is addressed through a health-based approach.
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- WE CAN DO THIS BY ENCOURAGING Hospitals to Provide Follow-Up Treatment Service Options to Individuals Upon Discharge:Hospitals play an important role in caring for individuals suffering from addiction who are often admitted to hospital emergency rooms after an overdose. I WILL WORK TO CREATE legislation that requires hospital medical staff to provide discharge-planning services to connect patients who have or are at-risk for substance use disorder with nearby treatment options to provide continuous medical care.
- We have expanded access to life-saving medicine to Georgia’s Law enforcement officers, and we must allow More Trained Professionals to Administer Life-Saving Overdose-Reversal Medication:Overdose-reversal medication saves lives. However, the law does not currently allow certain licensed professionals to administer this medication to individuals overdosing from heroin and opioids. To ensure that more people are able to help reverse overdoses, we must work tirelessly to train and authorize trained professionals to administer naloxone in emergency situations without risk to their professional license.
- We can not afford to leave compassion out of the policy-making process, that is why I want to Expand Services that Support Long-Term Recovery:when a person leaves treatment, they are at great risk for relapse. This is why it is imperative for us to provide services during this critical time in their lives. My plan calls for providing services to individuals completing treatment which includes education and employment resources; legal services; social services; transportation assistance, childcare services; and peer support groups. We can achieve this through public and private partnerships, and by considering Additional Penalties for felony drug trafficking and distribution to Fund Services for Rehabilitation and treatment. If a person brings and or distributes large amounts of drugs throughout our state, and receive a felony conviction, they have contributed to the epidemic of drug abuse. For this reason, I will encourage our state legislature to provide for additional penalties or fees to court cases in which a person is found guilty of “felony Drug trafficking and distribution”. Revenue from these penalties, fees, and assessments should then be allocated to an established Drug Rehabilitation Fund.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section tab_id=”1477087647385-6edae6dc-ccd6″ title=”#3. WE MUST STRENGTHEN COMMUNITY PREVENTION STRATEGIES” el_class=”blue”][vc_column_text el_class=”blue”]
- Requiring Ongoing Education on Addiction & Pain Management for All Physicians and Prescribers should be a priority.Physicians and other opioid prescribers are important partners in preventing addiction linked to abuse of prescription opioids. To ensure that prescribers understand the risks presented by prescription opioids, we should strongly consider legislation that these health care professionals complete three hours of education every three years on addiction, pain management, and palliative care. Additionally, Pharmacists must Provide Easy to Understand Information on Risks Associated with Drug Addiction and Abuse: To improve community awareness about these risks we should require pharmacists to provide educational materials to consumers about the risk of addiction, including information about local treatment services.
- Strengthening COMMUNITY PREVENTION STRATEGIES will Require Data Collection on Overdoses and Prescriptions to Assist the State in Providing Additional Protections to Combat this Epidemic:Look, we have 159 counties in Georgia, it is a Big State! That is why Current and accurate data is critical to combat the heroin and opioid crisis. I will bridge the gaps that currently exist in statewide data on overdoses and usage of opioid reversal medication. To fill that gap, we need legislation that supports the Georgia Department of Health ability to report county-level data on opioid overdoses and usage of overdose-reversal medication on a quarterly basis.
- I am a strong supporter of Georgia’s “911 Good Samaritan Fatal Overdose Prevention model”; why? Because Accidental overdose deaths are now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, exceeding even motor vehicle accidents among people ages 25 to 64. Many of these deaths are preventable if emergency medical assistance is summoned, but people using drugs or alcohol illegally often fear arrest if they call 911, even in cases where they need emergency medical assistance for a friend or family member at the scene of a suspected overdose. Georgia gets it, The best way to encourage overdose witnesses to seek medical help is to exempt them from arrest and prosecution for minor drug and alcohol law violations.
[highlight color=’#000000′ background_color=’#eeeeee’]Good Samaritan laws do not protect people from arrest for other offenses, such as selling or trafficking drugs, or driving while drugged. These policies protect only the caller and overdose victim from arrest and/or prosecution for simple drug possession, possession of paraphernalia, and/or being under the influence.[/highlight][/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section tab_id=”1477087817151-77b47c57-14a6″ title=”#4. WE MUST PROTECT OUR CHILDREN” el_class=”blue”][vc_column_text]We urge young people to stay clear of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, but we know that many of them will experiment with substance use no matter what the adults in their lives say or do.
Zero tolerance policies and drug testing in school are unrealistic, ineffective, and even harmful approaches to student drug use. As parents, educators and advocates, we must acknowledge the reality of teen drug use and provide our young people with credible information and resources about the risks and consequences of substance use.
Only through honest drug education can we empower young people to make informed and responsible decisions. We also need to teach them how to identify and handle problems with alcohol and other drugs and how to get help and support, if and when they occur.
Daniel supports common sense drug education that treats young people with respect and dignity while acknowledging that some level of teen drug use or interaction is inevitable.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][/vc_tta_accordion][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Heroin-related overdose deaths are on the rise, but WE HAVE A PLAN to reduce the harms associated with heroin use, treat dependence and addiction, and prevent overdose fatalities. SUPPORTING OUR Law enforcement officers IN using life-saving medicine along with proper training, helping for overdose victims; and training people how to prevent, recognize and respond to an overdose will be critical in our community finding COMMON GROUND and solving the problems of drug abuse throughout our county.