Hawai'i State Legislators join nationwide initiative to address opioid abuse
News Release from Women In Government Caucus, January 17, 2017
Honolulu, Hawai'i - Joining other state legislators around the country, Senator Rosalyn Baker, Representative Della Au Belatti, and Representative Lauren Matsumoto along with members of the Women’s Caucus met today to promote the Women In Government’s* Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders’ Policy Toolkit as well as address the growing issue of opioid abuse, a national epidemic.
The purpose of the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder toolkit is to educate legislators on the issues surrounding mental health and substance abuse and to provide a best-resources guide to assist legislators in developing policies to help their communities and pass effective legislation. It is a guide for policy makers being released today by women legislators across the country. One of the main focuses of many women in the Hawaii State Women’s Caucus is the growing epidemic of substance abuse relating to opioids.
It is estimated that a catastrophic 2.1 million Americans suffer from substance abuse disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers. The number of Americans who develop a dependency on opioid drugs has more than quadrupled since 1999. In Hawaii, drug overdoses increased 83 percent in the years between 2006 and 2014. "As we can see given these staggering statistics, the opioid epidemic is one that threatens to damage our community and loved ones. This toolkit is a sign that legislators across the nation are recognizing the severity of this issue and are coming together to share ideas, best practices, and shine light on that this epidemic which affects each and every one of us," said Representative Matsumoto.
This legislative session there will be a number of opioid related measures introduced. “It is really important that we have this action between prescribers and patients to ensure we don’t have over prescribing at the initial prescription,” said Senator Baker. Opioid abuse overdosing is growing at an unprecedented rate and is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. “What is encouraging is that over the last few years we have been able to move forward on this issue with bipartisan support,” Representative Belatti added.
Senator Baker presides as Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health; Representative Belatti presides as Chair of the House Committee on Health; and Representative Matsumoto serves on the national board of Women in Government; all three legislators are co-convenors of the Hawaii State Legislature Women’s Caucus.
*Women in Government (WIG) is a non-partisan organization of women legislators across the nation
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