Kentucky congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, who has spearheaded congressional efforts to battle the scourge of opioid addiction, will be honored in Washington on Oct. 23 by Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse (MAPDA).
The non-profit is chaired by Rogers’ former House GOP colleague Mary Bono. It was founded by mothers who have lost children to the opioid epidemic, which has struck Rogers’s native Kentucky with devastating force.
“Hal was the first in Congress to recognize the threat to our country, our communities and our families,” Bono says. “His leadership is second to none when it comes to addressing the opioid epidemic.”
Rogers, now in his 20th term and the longest serving Kentucky Republican ever elected to federal office, has been at the forefront of the opioid battle since the early 2000s, long before many in Congress realized there even was a crisis.
Last year, opioids killed an average 130 people a day nationally. In Kentucky, while the death toll remains devastating – 1,247 overdose deaths last year – fatalities declined 15 percent.
Rogers’ enormous contribution to this long-running battle will be recognized Oct. 23 at MAPDA’s Humanitarian Award Luncheon.
Among his accomplishments:
In 2001, he helped establish a federal grant program to provide money to Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, now in 49 states, which help doctors and pharmacists spot and prevent prescription drug abuse.
In 2003, he launched Operation UNITE, an initiative in southern and eastern Kentucky that empowers citizen groups and community leaders to battle drug abuse at every level. The organization takes a holistic approach, focusing on law enforcement, treatment and education, which is now a national model to combat the epidemic. UNITE’s life-saving activities include financial aid for low-income residents to get long-term treatment and youth programs that partner with schools to protect and educate children.
Today, the annual Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, which Rogers and Operation UNITE initiated in 2012, continues to draw top advocates, researchers and policy makers from across the country to work on the best strategies to combat this epidemic.
In 2010, Rogers and then-Rep. Bono, R-Calif., launched the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse to bring together like-minded lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, to seek multi-pronged solutions.
And for years Rogers has championed laws that have provided billions to battle the epidemic through prevention, treatment, enforcement and research.
Rogers will be the first recipient of MAPDA’s Humanitarian Award. Proceeds from the event will be used to award scholarships to recovering students to vocational schools and community colleges.