House Education & Workforce Committee

Rep. Rokita Opening Statement (R-IN) | Subcommittee Hearing on "Close to Home: How Opioids are Impacting Communities”

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 11/08/2017 - 12:00am

Good morning, and welcome to today’s joint subcommittee hearing with our colleagues from the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development. I’d like to thank our panel of witnesses and our members for joining today’s important discussion on opioid abuse and addiction that is taking a toll on the nation.

The opioid crisis is having a profound impact on families, jobs, communities, and the economy, and that is why we’re here today.

The issue of drug overdoses due to opioids is only getting worse as deaths related to opioids have quadrupled since 1999. In 2016 alone, there were approximately 64,000 drug overdoses. This means that the opioid crisis is claiming the lives of 175 Americans per day.

These figures are horrifying and sad not only for the country’s future, but for communities who are losing parents, husbands, wives, teachers, and students.

Additionally, the opioid epidemic knows no age, gender, educational credential, or class distinction. This crisis is touching all Americans.

Some of the most unfortunate stories have to do with the children whose lives have been forever changed by this public health emergency.

Between 2000 and 2014, the number of babies born drug-dependent increased by 500 percent. In my home state of Indiana, a recent pilot program from the state Department of Health found that about 1 in 5 infants assessed at hospitals around the state tested positive for opiates.

More and more children are being placed into foster care or are cared for by another relative due to parental drug abuse. According to a recent analysis, nearly a third of the children who entered foster care in the U.S. in 2015 did so at least partially because of parental drug abuse.

It is one thing to read the statistics and accounts in the news about communities in the midst of the opioid crisis, but these accounts do not compare to the real voices we need to hear from in order to understand this crisis.

I had the opportunity to host a school safety summit last week in my district. One of the two big topics was the opioid crisis. I heard from Dustin Noonkester, one of the founders of “Brady’s Hope.” Dustin lost his son to opioid overdose. This organization is a resource to members of the community on how to spot abuse, how to address opioid misuse, and how families can help one another treat opioid addiction.

These are the stories that give me hope that this crisis can be overcome.

This epidemic can no longer be ignored, and it is important that we hear from those who are on the ground and facing the tragic truths of the opioid crisis every day.

The witnesses we have gathered here today understand the opioid problem better than any of us here in Washington, because they see it, and fight it, in their communities.

I am pleased this committee can come together to understand this true public health emergency and its impact on communities across the United States.

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Rep. Guthrie Opening Statement (R-KY) | Subcommittee Hearing on "Close to Home: How Opioids are Impacting Communities”

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 11/08/2017 - 12:00am
Thank you Subcommittee Chairman Rokita, and I want to echo the Chairman’s appreciation for the witnesses joining us at today’s hearing. The opioid crisis is having a profound impact on my constituents as well, and I’m sure the stories we will hear from the witnesses today will resonate with many of the stories I have heard in Kentucky.

The opioid crisis is a public health emergency and Congress must continue working to face the epidemic that has had an impact on all aspects of our society.

Unfortunately, a problem as widespread as the opioid epidemic, which has already had an impact on over 11.5 million Americans, also has taken a devastating toll on local economies and the national economy as a whole, as we’re only beginning to see more clearly.

As the opioid public health emergency continues to worsen, the economy will continue to suffer.

Data from the CDC analyzing opioid overdose deaths by age groups in 1999 and 2015 showed that the people most likely to die of an opioid overdose are between the ages of 25 and 39 years old.

These are people who had entire lives, careers, and untold contributions to make to their communities and our country ahead of them.

Numbers are important, but people with their own stories are at the heart of this crisis.

To Americans who live in some of the areas hardest hit by the opioid crisis, including my home state of Kentucky, they are seeing their coworkers, bosses, friends, and family members suffer from this horrible affliction.

The administration and Congress are coming together to identify community-based solutions to combat this crisis, but the day-to-day hard work fighting this outbreak is already being done on the ground by the people that face this issue every day.

The witnesses we have gathered here today have seen the impact the opioid crisis is having on their communities every day, and it’s important we hear their stories of how it has specifically impacted them as individuals, as well as their friends, families, and coworkers.

When it comes to finding solutions for workforce development needs, and creating more good-paying jobs, we look to state and local entities who are leading by example, and the opioid crisis is no different.

Our witnesses before us have learned a lot in their communities about how to spot opioid abuse and implement successful forms of treatment. It is important we hear about these experiences in order to inform the Congressional response to the crisis.

At this Committee, we talk a lot about how we are addressing the shortage of skilled workers across the country, and how we want to empower people to build the lives they want for themselves. For many workers ensnared in this epidemic, it is critical that they receive the treatment they need to help them return to the workforce, and find a good job once they are drug-free. We also have to acknowledge that the opioid crisis is resulting in too many lives ending far too soon, and we have to look at ways to stop it.

I’d like to welcome Tim Robinson from my home state of Kentucky who is testifying here today. Tim is the founder and CEO of Addiction Recovery Care in Louisa, Kentucky, which is a network of 13 addiction treatment centers. Thank you for the work you are doing to serve your community and the Commonwealth. I look forward to hearing your testimony today.

I appreciate the witnesses for appearing before this committee, and look forward to hearing how they have responded in their own communities to combat this crisis.

To  read PDF version, click here.

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