Sen. Murray tackles opioid crisis, says it isn’t ‘somebody else’s problem. It’s all of ours’

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The federal government is working to fight the opioid crisis. Washington Senator Patty Murray is helping to lead the charge on Capitol Hill to make sure the feds find answers to the problem of heroin and other opioids.

Seattle-King County Public Health believes one piece of the puzzle to fight the crisis is the need for health care. “Don’t dismantle the Affordable Care Act,” said Public Health Communications Director James Apa, “If you eliminate access to behavioral health treatment, that makes significant changes in the wrong direction.”

Senator Murray agrees, saying “It is a no-brainer that undercutting the entirety of the country’s healthcare system would set us back in addressing this crisis.”

In today’s hearing, Murray said that Washington State as 30,000 newly eligible enrollees who are accessing substance abuse assistance because of Medicaid expansion. She told colleagues that it’s hard to grasp the scope of the problem. In a recent trip around the state, she stopped into the hospital in Longview. The staff told her that 50 percent new moms that they’ve seen, are struggling with substance abuse.

She questioned the budget proposal from the Trump administration, which includes cuts to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and how it could affect help to the more than 2,000,000 Americans who are currently suffering from opioid addiction.

“We need more support, not less. And I’ve been working on the Appropriations Committee to increase our prevention activities and I hope we get support for that,” said Sen. Murray.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 90 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

One way the federal government is helping reverse that number is through the use of Naloxone. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is trying to get the drug into the hands of more police and EMTs. The drug, also known as Narcan, can reverse the effects of opioids.

We’ve seen how successful the drug, also known as Narcan, has been in Western Washington. Snohomish County’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Project has been training and supplying police agencies with the drug. In September, the county reached a milestone of 100 lives saved using Narcan.

And in January, Q13’s Brandi Kruse was talking with Seattle Police about the city’s heroin problem when they came upon officers trying to save a man who was found slumped over on the street. Police used Narcan to try and revive the 24-year old. The drug worked. The man came to after being loaded onto an ambulance.

During today’s hearing, Murray said she believes this is a crisis that affects every American. "This is not somebody else’s problem, it’s all of ours."