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Bi-Partisan Heroin Task Force seeks to expand prevention and treatment for kids

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(WOBM Archive Video)

A recent round-table discussion held by the bi-partisan heroin task force in Washington focused on finding addiction treatment for our children.

Co-chair and shore congressman Tom MacArthur says their focus right now is aimed at better understanding the toll addiction has on children and adolescents and what the most effective treatment options would be.

He was joined by Co-Chair and New Hampshire Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D) along with a panel of experts to work towards solutions in finding treatment options and finding out more effective ways to stop supply and demand.

Among the panelists at the roundtable was Dr. Christopher Jones, Director of the Division of Science Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

There was also Heather Forkey MD, Assistant Director of Foster Children Evaluation Services and an attending pediatrician with the Child Protection Program which are both located at UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center.

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The biggest question that came from the round-table…Is why?

“When you’re dealing with young people that are struggling with addiction or if they’re moving into adulthood and struggling, the question can’t just be ‘what’s wrong with you?’, it has to be, ‘what has happened to you?’,” said MacArthur.

They also examined the effects of kids growing up in dysfunctional homes due to addiction in their family and being moved into foster homes.

He says it’s important to know more on where these kids came from and what ignites their addictive habits.

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Education remains a vital tool in fighting the war on drugs, and MacArthur says it’s a preventative forum that needs expanding and additional resources.

“You can’t, for example, put 50-kids in a classroom and expect teachers to be able to identify an at-risk child who may need more focus on this issue,” said MacArthur.

He says there needs to be the proper amount of funds being allocated to drug prevention and education in schools.

“We have to invest properly in the education system,” said MacArthur. “We have to make sure that our schools are staffed with people that can handle this kind of issue.”

Another focus of their round-table was trying to cut down the supply and demand for drugs.

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MacArthur says many kids who do get addicted often start with prescription drugs, then move to something more dangerous.

“There’s an alarmingly high number of high school students and even younger, are saying how easy it is to buy heroin,” said MacArthur.

He adds the task force laid out an agenda of eight bills focusing on treatment and trying to decrease the supply and demand.

Macarthur says the bills being worked on are being aimed to help people of all ages find treatment.

“There’s a bill that I introduced that would allow families to use their health savings accounts, which are taxed advantaged accounts, to help a broader set of family members than they’re allowed to do today,” said MacArthur.

He adds the bill would allow grandparents to help their grand-kids with treatment options or cousins helping each other out.

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