Opioid Abuse at Center of Senate Committee Discussion

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Opioid abuse is a rapidly growing problem in the U.S. Opioid abuse is a rapidly growing problem in the U.S.
Sam Quinones Sam Quinones
Senator Tim Kaine Senator Tim Kaine

Senators in Washington are shining the spotlight on the country's rapidly growing opioid abuse problem.

Virginia's Tim Kaine was part of a Senate committee hearing on the crisis on Tuesday, January 9.

Senators at the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing focused on two important aspects of battling the opiate crisis.

They say doctors need to reassess how they prescribe drugs, and there needs to be stronger communities of support for those battling addiction.

Sam Quinones, the author of the book “Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic,” testified before the Senate committee on Tuesday.

Quinones says there’s no quick fix to the opioid epidemic.

He says lawmakers must first focus on reducing the supply of legal, narcotic painkillers that have continued to grow in number over the last two decades.

Senator Kaine says that if everyone talked more openly about addiction, it could start a powerful social movement in the United States.

“How do you get over the stigma, and then Democrats, Republicans, red state, blue state, this recovering social movement would be massive and would help us meet whatever target we set for ourselves,” says Kaine.

Kaine also suggested the committee set a goal of when it hopes to fully eliminate opiate addiction.

Senate Democrats are now calling for federal funding to battle the opioid crisis.