Central Washington stories show need for opioid abuse answers

Newhouse to host Free Opioid Summit Friday, May 11, 10 a.m.-12:00 p.m. in Moses Lake

“My brother is an addict. I am raising his daughter.” That is one of the many responses I received when I asked constituents of the 4th Congressional District how opioids and heroin abuse have affected people in our community. The responses are eye-opening to the heartbreaking cost of the opioid crisis in Central Washington:
“The opioid crisis is destroying my family's life,” and “my adult child has battled addiction for 20 years after taking post-surgery opioids at 18,” are two more responses that are truly a call to action.
Families are struggling due to this epidemic: “Lost brother to heroin overdose” is another tragic comment that I received.
While there is no single cure-all, this is a crisis that demands a concerted, long-term, bipartisan response at the federal, state, and local levels. During the 114th Congress, I voted in favor of legislation, the bipartisan 21st Century CURES Act, to increase state grants for treatment from $500 million to $1.5 billion. Now, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is following up on many hearings that closely examined the problem and is expected to advance further legislation in the next two weeks, with the goal of bringing legislation for a full House vote by Memorial Day.
I asked for what kind of policies Congress should respond with to address the complex problem, and the feedback was very helpful: “Don’t punish people who just had surgery,” and “more education, better control of prescription abuse, and more efforts to help victims of addiction.” Some pointed out that we must also be aware of the potential impacts of policy solutions for people who suffer from chronic pain: “It has made it more difficult for those with chronic pain to get the relief they need” is one response.
These are the kinds of questions and solutions that I am encouraging constituents to share with me as your representative in Congress.
To respond to requests for better public education on this crisis, I am inviting constituents in the 4th Congressional District to a free Opioid Summit I am hosting in Moses Lake on Friday, May 11, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. PST. The Summit will be held at Moses Lake Civic Center on 401 South Balsam Street. I have invited a panel of experts from Moses Lake Police Department, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Washington State Department of Health, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to discuss efforts to combat the crisis and answer questions. There will also be information provided on the prescription drug take-back program and drop-off center locations.
Another constituent comment testified that families can gain the upper hand in their fight: “Our nephew battled this addiction for several years. Fortunately, with help, he has beaten this.” The voices I have heard from Central Washington are clear. Families need assistance to beat this epidemic, and equipped with more information and resources, we can offer help that makes a difference.

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