WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Indian Affairs Committee, of which U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski is a member, focused on understanding the extent of the impacts of the opioid epidemic in Native American and Alaska Native communities and steps to make a difference. Witnesses testifying Wednesday ranged from Tribal leaders to health professionals in the Indian Health Service and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as a representative from the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Alaska may be a rural state, but we are not shielded from this epidemic. The truth of the matter is, opioid abuse in Alaska is devastating our communities throughout the state and has rapidly become one of our most pressing issues. You think about a small community like Quinhagak, with less than a thousand people, had four overdoses that were attributed to fentanyl in a matter of a week. It’s devastating anywhere, but perhaps we feel that personal impact in these small, small remote villages even more.” said Murkowski. “On top of the opioid epidemic, many of our Alaska Native communities continue to struggle with alcohol abuse, so as we address opioid abuse, we must not lose sight of the fact that underlining so much of this crisis, is alcohol.”[xyz-ihs snippet=”Adsense-responsive”]Senator Murkowski recently introduced the Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act with Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN), bipartisan legislation that would address the ongoing shortage of professionals needed to provide treatment and recovery services as communities combat the opioid abuse epidemic and substance abuse.