Thune, Rounds, Johnson discuss opioid epidemic

April 29, 2019
In The News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid overdoses kill an average of 130 Americans each day.

Emily's Hope, an organization fighting the opioid epidemic, is named in honor of Angela Kennecke's daughter Emily who lost her life to a fentanyl overdose last May. On Friday night at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, Emily's Hope held a fundraising art show and auction, with proceeds from the event all going to the organization. The whole goal of the evening was raising money to continue to fight the epidemic that took Emily's life.

KELOLAND News spoke with Rep. Dusty Johnson and Sen. John Thune at Friday's event. Johnson says eyes are opening to the opioid epidemic.

"Well I think there's an awakening, there's an understanding, there's an awareness that is building at the federal level," Johnson said. "In just the last couple of years, there's been $6 billion appropriated for this fight against opioids, fentanyl, methamphetamine. That is not enough, but it is a foundation upon which we can build."

He also has seen a change in how treatment can happen.

"The other piece of good news is at the state level and the federal level, you're seeing criminal justice systems being reoriented and focused on evidence-based treatment so we can make sure if people are users, we can get them clean and get them back to being productive members of society," Johnson said.

Thune says the fight against the opioid crisis has increased.

"It's really stepped up," Thune said. "I mean, in the last four years funding for combating and fighting opioid abuse and addiction has increased almost 1,300 percent. It's an issue that's really come into focus for the Congress."

Earlier in the day KELOLAND News also spoke with Sen. Mike Rounds.

"Addiction does not know political boundaries, whether you're talking about meth which is in rural areas just like it is in your major urban areas, or if you're talking about opioids, which knows not only no political jurisdiction, it also doesn't understand economics, either," Rounds said. "It doesn't matter how much your family makes, it doesn't matter what type of an education background you've got, the possibility of being addicted to an opioid is still there. And we have to recognize that