WASHINGTON, D.C. – Late last night, the President signed into law a spending package that includes several key wins for Ohio that Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) helped secure. In the package, Brown helped secure a record investment of $15 million to support the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP). Brown helped create the program last year by securing $10 million in funding. The program allows the Department of Defense (DOD) to research opioid alternatives or non-addictive methods to treat and manage chronic pain for servicemembers.

“When it’s easier for Americans to get their hands on opioids than it is for them to access non-addictive alternatives and treatments, we have a serious problem. This bill continues critical investments to help solve the addiction crisis through important research and creative, new approaches. Opioid addiction is a chronic disease and even our brave servicemembers are not immune – so we need to ensure that there are a variety of non-addictive methods available so we can help prevent addiction before it takes hold,” Brown said.

Last year, Brown fought to include $10 million in the Defense Appropriations Bill to create the CDMRP at the DOD to research opioid alternatives or non-addictive methods to treat and manage chronic pain. Earlier this year, Brown led a letter urging the Appropriations Committee to include these funds in their bill. CDMRP aims to drive innovation in the medical community and seeks to find solutions for medical challenges facing servicemembers. This year, the $15 million in funding will help the research program focus on chronic pain management as well as treatment for service-related injuries and stress, as well as developing therapies to prevent dependence on opioids and other addictive substances.

Servicemembers can suffer from chronic pain that is often attributed to a multitude of factors, both combat-related and stress-related as a result their service to our country. With few options outside of prescription opioids, members of the military can be reliant on highly addictive substances, such as opioids, to manage this pain. The Department of Veterans Affairs released a study in 2016 that shows veterans who receive the highest doses of opioid painkillers are twice as likely to die by suicide as those who receive lower doses. Over the past 12 years, there has been an increase in prescriptions for opioids among veterans by over 270 percent, which shows the growing use of these highly addictive substances. The risks of servicemembers and veterans becoming addicted to opioids are both a combat readiness challenge and a significant challenge for family and communities that rely on and support them while serving and after.