Murkowski: Improving the Response to the Opioid Crisis
Focuses on Trauma and Mental Illness as Underlying Cause
Today U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) participated in a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing to discuss innovative ways to address root causes of the opioid addiction crisis and substance abuse in Alaska, and across the nation.
The hearing featured witnesses Jessica Nickel, President and CEO of the Addiction Policy Forum, Robert Morrison, Executive Director of the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, and Jennifer Donahue, Child Abuse Investigation Coordinator with the Office of the Child Advocate for the State of Delaware.
“I think the experience of multigenerational trauma is, unfortunately, more of a reality in rural Alaska than possibly anywhere else in the country. For decades, we have faced staggeringly high rates of alcohol and other drug abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence – the trauma is not limited to family members who are addicted,” said Senator Murkowski. “A village of 200 to 400 people can’t sustain a licensed social worker or a psychiatrist or a psychologist in private practice, and flying kids to Anchorage for treatment is simply not feasible, from both a practical and financial standpoint. We’ve got to make it easier for everyone to have access to mental health care.”
Senator Murkowski questioned witness Jennifer Donahue on potential policies to bring mental health professionals into schools, without putting a financial burden on already underfunded districts.
Senator Murkowski is the lead Republican cosponsor of the Improving Access to Mental Health Services Act introduced by Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), which is bipartisan legislation that would expand mental health services in the school system.