Tester Fights for Indian Country, Pushes for Resources to Combat Meth Epidemic

Senator Sponsors Legislation to Treat Substance Abuse Among Native Americans 

(U.S. Senate)—U.S. Senator Jon Tester is fighting Montana’s meth and opioid epidemic head on by pushing to eliminate substance abuse in Indian Country.

Tester questioned top administrative officials in a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing this week and demanded direct funding to specifically to help combat meth and substance abuse in Indian Country.

“Meth and substance abuse has been ripping apart families in Indian Country,” Tester said after the hearing.  “To ensure that tribes have access to life-saving services, it is essential that we create a specific account to guarantee that resources are getting directly to tribal governments and Native American communities.” 

To address the spread of opioid abuse, Tester is sponsoring the Opioid Response Enhancement Act to reauthorize the State Targeted Opioid Response (STR) grant program.  Tester’s bill strengthens STR grants and increases the funding that is available for tribes to treat opioid and other substance abuse issues that are similar or substantial public health threats, such as meth. Tester said it is critical that Tribes are not only eligible for funding, but also allowed flexibility to address the unique needs of the community.

Tester is also sponsoring the Native Behavioral Health Access Improvement Act to create a new initiative to help tribes access additional resources to provide mental health care and treat substance abuse in Indian Country, which will ensure culturally appropriate treatment for opioid and substance abuse across Indian Country.  This new initiative will be modeled after the successful Special Diabetes Program for Indians, which has been a proven method to develop solutions and incorporate traditional and cultural practices to treat diabetes.

Tester is also championing legislation, the SURVIVE Act, to create a tribal grant program at the Department of Justice to ensure Native American survivors of domestic and sexual violence can access shelters, medical care, counseling, and legal services.

Tester recently raised serious alarms about the White House’s plan to gut the budget of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which has been instrumental in combatting meth and opioid addiction in Montana.

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