Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-04) released a statement this week geared to focusing attention on his work in support of both law enforcement and addiction treatment.
“During a week in which the House of Representatives focused solely on solutions to the country’s opioid crisis, Congressman Scott DesJarlais, M.D., voted to improve veterans’ addiction treatment, prevent childhood trauma and illness as a result of parental drug abuse, and to stop shipments of narcotic chemicals across U.S. borders, among other votes to help his home state of Tennessee conquer its drug epidemic,” it reads in part.
Said DesJarlais, “Drug overdoses as well as suicides have increased, and the rising figures are tied to declining economic fortunes in depressed rural areas. In addition to strengthening addiction treatment and law enforcement, growing job opportunities is very important. Reversing the decline of American manufacturing and encouraging small businesses will provide hope to people who in despair have turned to drugs.”
“Tennessee’s opioid-related mortality rate is higher than average. The rate in Grundy County in the Fourth Congressional District is particularly high”, he continued. DesJarlais represents parts of Appalachia, a region experiencing the worst of the crisis, according to the Appalachian Regional Commission. “Nearly every demographic is suffering, but residents of Appalachia, including East Tennessee, and also the Rust Belt are suffering in great numbers,” he said.
The statement also cited a link between the current opioid crisis, Mexican drug cartels, and illegal immigration.
Although prescription opioid-related deaths have been declining nationwide, fentanyl and other opioids have become responsible for more and more fatalities, he explained. “Doctors and patients are working together to reduce to the availability of prescription opioids to non-patients, but Chinese labs and Mexican gangs are counteracting our efforts, flooding the U.S. with heroin, fentanyl and copycat drugs even more dangerous.”
Mexico is the primary source of illegal heroin and fentanyl in the United States. “Cartels traffic Chinese fentanyl along the same routes they use to smuggle heroin and other drugs across our insecure Southern Border,” said Rep. DesJarlais. “China ships fentanyl and components directly to dealers in the U.S. through our mail system.”
“This week, I voted to secure the postal system. I have voted to build a wall on the southern border, to add more border agents, and to increase penalties on repeat immigration offenders who traffic drugs for Mexican cartels. Stronger border and immigration enforcement are crucial parts of our strategy to stop the opioid epidemic and save lives in Tennessee.”