Lawmakers address growing epidemic

  • Saturday, March 12, 2016 4:06pm
  • Opinion

Over the past several days lawmakers at the state and federal levels have approved measures to address the increase in opioid abuse taking place across the United States, including Alaska.

While we lament the fact that such measures are necessary, we’re glad to see steps being taken that will save lives, even here on the Kenai Peninsula.

Citing a 2015 study from the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski noted that in Alaska, the rate of hospitalizations for heroin poisoning has doubled from 2008 to 2012, while the number of heroin-related deaths more than tripled between 2008 and 2013. The number of patients admitted to substance abuse treatment programs continues to increase.

This past week, the Alaska Legislature passed a measure that would expand access to the drug Naloxone, which counteracts the effects of an overdose, allowing a patient more time to receive medical help.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, for which the co-sponsors include Sens. Murkowski and Dan Sullivan. In addition to making Naloxone more widely available to first responders, the measure expands resources to identify and treat addiction.

In remarks on the Senate floor, Sen. Murkowski noted the need for drug abuse treatment and prevention programs nationwide: “Opioid addiction has become of the most pressing public health issues facing American families all across the nation. This not is a single state’s issue, addiction does not discriminate against any group and it cannot be confined to one geographic region. It impacts us all from the young to the old, the lower, middle and higher income levels, veterans, pregnant women, and even newborn babies all can suffer from addiction. There are heartbreaking stories from the homes of my colleagues on the east coast all the way to some of our most remote villages in Alaska. We all have seen and heard of the pain opioid addiction causes. That is why it is so essential we take action and address this issue now before it continues to worsen.”

It’s worth noting that at both the state and federal level, the legislation has been free from partisanship. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act passed the U.S. Senate by a vote of 94-1, while SB 23 passed unanimously in both the Alaska House of Representatives and the Senate.

As Sen. Murkowski said, drug addiction impacts us all. We grateful to lawmakers for seeing that, and for taking steps to address it.

More in Opinion

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: The foolish men claiming self-defense

It’s not just misguided teenagers carrying guns who find themselves in trouble with the law.

Opinion: State defends its right to cut nonexistent taxes

This from a state that has no property tax on homes or businesses, only on the oil industry.

Dr. Jay Butler, former chief medical officer for the State of Alaska, is seen in this undated photo. (Courtesy photo)
Alaska Voices: Feeling grateful this Thanksgiving for the COVID vaccines

The COVID vaccines remain our strongest tool in combating the pandemic and helping us return to our lives and the things we love and cherish.

A resident casts their vote in the regular municipal election Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Voices of the Peninsula: All votes matter

In the beginning, only property-holding white men could vote.

Cristen San Roman. (Photo provided)
Point of View: Is management of Cook Inlet catered to special interest groups?

If these fish are so at risk, why is BOEM able to move forward with lease sale 258?

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Grateful for the hidden ‘good’

Gratitude: Noun The state of being grateful; thankfulness. The state or quality… Continue reading

Homer High School Principal Douglas Waclawski. (Photo provided)
Point of View: What is Homer High School about?

What I consider Homer High’s strength is that we are a place for learning.

UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell. (courtesy photo)
Alaska Voices: Invent your future at UAA

At UAA we’re providing the tools to help students of all ages and skills chart a new course forward.

A registered nurse prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at the pop-up clinic on the Spit on May 27. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Alaska Voices: Vaccination is the still best protection from COVID-19

The Alaska State Medical Association encourages you to protect yourselves and your community from preventable illness by getting recommended vaccines.

(Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
The sad diminishment of Rep. Don Young

Young seems afraid to demand his party leader defend the dignity of the institution he loves.

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Alaska Voices: Restore our strong campaign donation limits

Without campaign spending limits, the ideal of one person, one vote is no longer really true.

The Final Redistricting Map approved for the Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna area is seen on Nov. 9, 2021. (Map via
Alaska Voices: The Alaska Redistricting Board’s last-minute gerrymandering failed Alaska

Our Constitution outlines rules for a redistricting process designed to uphold public trust.