We have a silent killer in our country. Each day, it takes the lives of our mothers, our sons, our neighbors. That killer is the extremely addictive opioid, with heroin as the most infamous drug of its kind.
Kyle Pucek of Janesville, Wisconsin was close to becoming a victim of the silent killer. Kyle is a recovering opioid addict. This is a man who lived through the hell of opioid addiction—and came out stronger on the other side thanks to family and rehabilitation. Here are Kyle’s own words:
"I was at my wit's end. No one really knew what was going on with me. People could tell that I was in trouble but didn't really know how to help. After a couple cries for help, which were hospital visits, my family came together and got me into rehab, and since that day I've been clean."
Now, Kyle spends a lot of his time talking to people—especially students—about the dangers of opioid addiction. He shares his story in an effort to prevent other people from going down the sorrowful, life-threatening path he took:
“The community as a whole is suffering right now from addiction and abuse on a lot of levels. This is something I have common ground with, and I'm willing to share my experience to help others, to help families."
Kyle Pucek’s story is all too familiar. What starts off as an addiction to prescription pills following a surgery descends into an addiction to heroin. Far too often, these stories end up in tragedy and death.
That’s why Congress has made fighting the opioid epidemic a top priority. In this year’s government funding bill, we provided an increase of $781 million for prevention, education, and treatment of opioid abuse. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, along with the 21st Century Cures Act, provides grants, gives treatment and prevention, and supports law enforcement in communities around the nation. The bad guys who are pedaling these drugs in our schools and communities must be taken off the streets and locked up in prison.
These resources will go to local communities because that’s the most important way to stop the spread of opioids. Kyle Pucek spoke at a local event last October called Hope over Heroin, which included resource booths, local speakers, and a candlelight vigil to commemorate the people who died from opioid abuse:
"A phrase that I grew up with was ‘always be part of the solution or you're part of the problem.' And I think that's what's important for me...People need to understand that they do need to be proactive and look to help their community because if they're not, they're actually part of the problem, and they're not allowing their community to heal and be the best that it can."
These bills are part of the solution. With more education, prevention, and treatment, more of our loved ones can be saved from the hell of addiction. This legislation will help stop this silent killer and will save lives. It’s something we are proud of, and we will keep at it.