Murkowski on Fighting the Opioid Crisis

Impacts to Children and Families

Today the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, of which U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski is a member, focused on the impact the opioid crisis has on children and families. The hearing featured witnesses representing a medical facility and foundations who focus on foster care and child welfare, research of opioid-exposed infants and women with substance-use disorders, and education for families about the dangers of drug abuse.

“The issue of addiction and how opioids are devastating our communities around the state and around the country needs to be a priority. It’s going to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to fully address this epidemic. This is impacting Alaska at all levels ---from children to families to entire communities,” said Senator Murkowski. “So, as we continue to focus on creating new jobs and economic opportunities, it’s important to recognize that if Alaskans aren’t healthy and able to take these jobs, it’s all for nothing.”

During the hearing, Senator Murkowski questioned Becky Savage, Co-Founder of the 525 Foundation, which was started in honor of her two sons who both died of accidental overdoses of oxycodone and alcohol at ages 18 and 19. 

“How can we do more to facilitate a conversation about the fact that the people who are dealing with this are not losers, are not bottom of the barrel, these are not people at the bottom of society. These are boys, these are our brothers, our sisters, our parents, people that we love,” said Murkowski. “How do we change the face of addiction so that there is the ability as society to embrace what we have to do to solve addiction?

“Our boys were not addicts, they had experimented with a medication that was brought to a graduation party, so it was a one-time use that did kill them. However we are faced with the stigma,” said Becky Savage. “Every time someone says, ‘Oh you lost your two older boys, how did they pass away?’ You know, you have that split second of, ‘Oh my gosh, here we go’. And when you tell them they died of an overdose, you get the stigma, and we talk about it. There are some schools systems that I know parents have contacted me about going to talk to, and the school systems maybe aren’t ready to have me come in and talk about opioid misuse or abuse, or prescription pills because of the stigmatism. They are afraid of being classified as having an issue at their school. So I’m not sure how to combat that other than talking about it, and being more open with talking with people. I’d like to say that it is getting easier, but just talking about it hopefully will fight some of that stigma.”

HELP Hearing Savage Q

(Click Image to Watch Video of Murkowski Questioning Savage)

Today, the full Senate is expected to vote on the Bipartisan Budget Act, which prioritizes the fight against opioid addiction and substance abuse.

Background: In January, Senator Murkowski participated in a HELP Committee hearing to address the nation’s opioid crisis, which focused on examining the cause of the crisis and steps to turn the tide on the devastating crisis, including how to reduce the stigma associated with those who have been impacted. 

Related Issues: Health