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Washington, D.C. -The Senate Health Committee held a hearing yesterday titled, “The Opioid Crisis: Impact on Children and Families,” to examine how states and communities are responding to the needs of children and families who have been affected by the opioid crisis. The Committee heard from multiple experts, including, Becky Savage, who tragically lost her two teenage sons due to an accidental opioid overdose. Ms. Savage is the co-founder of the 525 Foundation whose goal is to prevent similar tragedies by performing outreach, education and support.
During the hearing, Senator Collins discussed meeting with advocates representing Community Anti-Drug Coalitions and Drug-Free Communities across Maine. At the meeting, student leaders from Fort Kent shared stories regarding programs they are leading to mentor their peers and promote safe and healthy choices around drug, alcohol, and tobacco use.
“I was impressed by a group of students from Fort Kent, Maine, who have developed their own program to try to help their peers avoid alcohol abuse, tobacco, and opioids, a crisis that were in the midst of in Maine,” Senator Collins told Ms. Savage. “What do you think of those kinds of peer counseling or peer groups to help teach high school students and younger children that there are alternatives to drugs and alcohol?”
“I think any time a conversation is started it's a positive, and those peer mentor groups are incredible,” Ms. Savage replied. “I think a lot of times just talking about it can start a conversation, where maybe a child goes home and talks to their parents about the issue. Any time that can happen, of course, that's a success. So, I think that's a wonderful thing.”
Senator Collins has been a strong supporter of the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) program. Last May, she and Senators Grassley and Feinstein wrote a letter to the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee requesting the highest possible funding for DFC for the 2018 fiscal year budget request.