WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen hosted the president of the medical staff at Lakes Region General Hospital for a roundtable discussion on Capitol Hill yesterday on how to address the heroin and opioid drug abuse epidemic in New Hampshire and around the country.
In addition to his 30 years of experience practicing emergency medicine in the Lakes Region, Dr. Paul Racicot has run an intensive outpatient drug and alcohol recovery program for two decades. Also in attendance at the roundtable was Director of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli, who has recently visited New Hampshire twice to be briefed on New Hampshire's fight against the heroin and opioid addiction epidemic.
"The heroin crisis is a national emergency," said Shaheen, D-N.H. "It is destroying families and ravaging communities in New Hampshire and all across our country. Dr. Racicot is on the front lines of this crisis in New Hampshire and his expertise and first-hand experience was highly valued in today's meeting. I commend Dr. Racicot's many years of work treating those suffering from addiction in the Lakes Region and I appreciate his willingness to brief Congress as we seek ways to address this epidemic."
"In New Hampshire, and the Lakes Region in particular, we've seen the devastating consequences of heroin and opioid addiction," said Racicot, "In the healthcare community we know that tackling addiction isn't just a law enforcement matter but calls for a coordinated effort that requires treatment, education and community involvement. That's why conversations like the one we had today are so important. We must bring together healthcare providers, treatment professionals and federal policy makers to address this problem on all fronts like we have done in Laconia. I appreciated the opportunity to share my perspective on this issue with the members of the committee this morning."
Also yesterday, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration released its annual National Drug Threat Assessment Summary, which finds that drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States, surpassing motor vehicle deaths and firearms.
Shaheen has made addressing New Hampshire's heroin and opioid addiction epidemic a top priority in the Senate. Yesterday, Shaheen sent a letter to Senate appropriators calling for more resources to address the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic and pointed to must-pass government funding legislation as a critical opportunity to provide more support to states like New Hampshire. And this week, she introduced legislation to help the state police forensic lab in New Hampshire and other labs across the country that are experiencing a backlog of seized drugs, such as heroin and fentanyl, that require lab identification.