WASHINGTON, D.C. — Several members of the U.S. Senate took to the Senate floor Thursday to address the nation’s opioid crisis.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin called for the colloquy. Manchin and fellow West Virginia U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito were the first speakers.
Manchin called for instruction of children to be part of the fight.
“The United States of America should start educating in every class. You’re not too young to know what this can do to you,” Manchin said.
Since 2001, overdose deaths have quadrupled in the Mountain State. There were 818 overdose deaths in West Virginia last year.
“It’s destroying families lives and futures,” Capito said.
Both senators shared stories of how the epidemic has impacted state residents.
Manchin read from a letter he received from Dingess resident Shadd Baisden, an out of work coal miner who became addicted to painkillers after being injured on the job. Baisden and his wife have now been clean for three years.
Capito told of a recent meeting in her office with Logan County resident Chelsea Carter. She was once charged with 17 felonies because of her drug habit but was able to get into drug court. Carter is now the program director at Appalachian Health Services.
“There are victories. There are programs that work. Drug court is not the only one. It’s one of the spectrum of solutions,” Capito said.
Manchin urged his Republican colleagues in the Senate to get behind his LifeBOAT Act (Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment Act).
“I’m asking for a treatment plan and I can’t get one penny, one penny. I absolutely believe that no one would lose an election for voting for treatment facilities for people that are desperately in need,” Manchin said.
LifeBOAT would charge prescription drug distributors one penny perm milligram to fund treatment centers.