‘Treat the Whole Person’
Yesterday, I took to the House floor to continue my push for increased focus on Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis by sharing the story of Carlos Castellanos of Falls Twp. — one of the 185 deaths associated with drug overdoses in Bucks Co. in 2016.
My remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share the story of a young man from my district in Pennsylvania whose tragic passing underscores one of the biggest issues facing our community, and our nation.
Carlos Castellanos of Falls Township, Bucks County graduated from of Pennsbury High School and always loved sharing his talents and love of music by playing the guitar and drums at school and for local church groups.
However, like so many around the nation, Carlos got involved with drugs during his time in school and even spent some time in jail. But, with the strength and support of his family, he began receiving treatment and his life improved. He helped others by volunteering at a recovery house and he brought people suffering in similar situations to treatment programs.
In early December, Carlos walked his mother, Pamela, down the aisle for her wedding. He was getting ready to go back to school, he had a steady job, and a girlfriend. It would seem to many that Carlos’ battle with addiction was heading in the right direction — a needed point of hope in a war that’s caused so much devastation.
Then, on December 23rd, just days before Christmas, two police detectives showed up at Pamela’s door to tell her the devastating news that no mother can prepare for: Carlos had overdosed on a drug laced with fentanyl and was unable to be saved.
Mr. Speaker, Carlos’ life — and his death — cast a bright light on the fact that addiction is nothing short of a chronic disease.
I share this story with members of this chamber because, last week, Carlos’ mother, Pamela, visited the White House to share her family’s personal experience as the President established the Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis — a worthy effort that deserves our support.
The fact is, our nation’s opioid crisis transcends politics, and so must our response.
I applaud the president’s executive order to investigate the roots of this epidemic and outline tangible actions we can take to fight back.
Any response to this challenge must treat the whole person, not just the addiction. We must focus on the underlying issues driving people to seek opioids, while increasing the accessibility and affordability for prevention, education, treatment, and recovery of this disease.
As Pamela shared: Every life is a precious life, and every life is worthy of being reclaimed.
I agree. And I believe each of you does, too. So, let’s work together to support these families that need our help.”
Fitzpatrick, a former drug crime federal prosecutor and certified Emergency Medical Technician, is a cosponsor of the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Protection (STOP) Act [H.R. 1057] — legislation designed to help stop dangerous drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil from being shipped through our borders to drug traffickers here in the United States. He is a member of both the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force and the Congressional Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus.