Seattle Mayor Ed Murray asked Congress to fully fund an act aimed at curbing opioid abuse. “Local governments alone cannot solve this complex problem...” Murray said.

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Seattle Mayor Ed Murray called for Congress to fully fund a bill aimed at curbing opioid abuse in a letter signed by 12 other mayors of large U.S. cities.

The bill, which Congress passed earlier this year but has not funded, gives $103 million for local agencies to train first responders to use overdose-reversal drugs like nasal Nalaxone (also known as Narcan), for prescription drug buy-back programs and for other programs to treat opioid abuse.

“Rates of addiction and overdose from opioid abuse have rapidly outpaced local governments’ ability to effectively respond to and manage the epidemic and are straining already-limited resources,” the mayors wrote. “We are grateful for Congress’ recognition and passage of a comprehensive federal response to the opioid epidemic, but without implementation funding, the law does little to address the ongoing – and worsening – crisis we are facing in our cities.”

Beginning in 2009, Seattle saw a sharp rise in overdose deaths tied to heroin. The drug was involved in 132 deaths last year in Seattle. Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control has been describing drug overdose deaths as an “epidemic.”

In March, Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine created a task force designed to find ways to expand heroin treatment. The task force last month endorsed creating places for addicts to use heroin and other drugs in a supervised facility.

Seattle bicycle police began carrying the overdose-reversing drug Narcan last March, and have given it to 10 people who had overdosed. The police received praise from U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy over the program.

In a news release, Murray said he needed the federal government’s help in solving the vexing heroin problem.

“As Mayor of a large city we see and struggle with the impacts of the heroin crisis on our streets every day. Local governments alone cannot solve this complex problem and I join my fellow mayors in urging Congress to fully fund the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.”

Separately last month, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services received a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Helath and Human Services for up to $1 million each year for training and distribution of naloxone in high-need areas.