The reported numbers on the effects of opioid addiction in our country are mind-boggling. More Americans have died from opioid overdoses than those who gave their lives in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and the Iraq wars combined. According to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report in 2017, two million children live in households with at least one parent who had an illicit drug use disorder.

Nebraska is not immune. Our families are losing sons, daughters, parents, and loved ones to this ravaging epidemic.

Sadly, whether it’s from a person while on the road or through correspondence with my office, I hear stories of loss and addiction far too often. It’s why I have worked to secure millions of federal dollars for our state to fight back and develop innovative approaches to stop the spread of this crisis with targeted, effective treatments.

With the support of medical professionals and law enforcement communities across Nebraska, I voted to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act in 2016. The legislation served as an important, forward-looking step that provided much-needed funding to law enforcement and first responders to bolster training and resources. This funding also expanded efforts to educate Nebraskans on the dangers of opioids and highlight treatment and recovery programs that stand ready to provide vital care to those who desperately need it.

That same year, the Senate reinforced our nation’s commitment to this fight by passing the 21st Century Cures Act. I was proud to vote for this legislation, which provided over $4 million in grant funding for our state since 2017.

Now, because of our efforts, we’re seeing some glimmers of hope. A recent report by SAMHSA has shown that heroin and prescription drug abuse declined last year. According to the report, the number of people who misused opioids fell from 11.4 million to 10.3 million.

Governor Ricketts recently announced that Nebraska is the first state to designate federal funds towards training addiction medicine specialists. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the Attorney General’s office, and the University of Nebraska Medical Center have worked together to launch an addiction medicine fellowship program. The fellowship will provide a comprehensive one-year training program that focuses on treating opioid addiction patients of all ages.

This encouraging news comes in addition to a court case that made national headlines. A judge in Oklahoma recently ordered healthcare company Johnson and Johnson to pay $572 million for their actions that fueled the opioid crisis.

Nebraskans understand that if we are going to win this battle, it will require a combined effort from local, state, and federal officials – and that’s exactly what we are doing. As the Lincoln Journal Star reported, our state is “firing on all cylinders” in our efforts to put funding to good use and combat addiction.

Through tireless work, we’re now witnessing signs of light in our fight against this terrible epidemic. Results like these don’t happen on their own, and I’m proud of Nebraska’s role in leading this recovery. Moving forward, I’ll be working hard to ensure Nebraska has the resources it needs to build on this progress so that together we can continue to save lives.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.

In other news

Something stirring happened in Washington this week. Chief Standing Bear, native Nebraskan, first American, leader of the Ponca Tribe, was welcomed to the United States Capitol in Statuary Hall.

Like many Nebraskans, I enjoy hunting and fishing, and these activities have instilled in me an enduring love for the outdoors.  There’s no better way to take in the beauty of Nebraska, whether it’s on a turkey hunt in the Pine Ridge or spending a quiet evening fishing at a community pond.  …

Many Nebraskans have heard of the Bronze Star Medal that is awarded to members of the military. But this week I want to highlight its history and the level of courage, character, and honor required to receive the award.

This week, I’m traveling to Washington, DC to celebrate the unveiling of a statue of Chief Standing Bear at the United States Capitol. The statue will be on display for years to come, and I encourage Nebraskans to look for it when they next visit the U.S. Capitol.

On Wednesday, September 18, 2019, at 2:00 pm (CT), the Dedication of Chief Standing Bear in Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., will take place. I proudly joined Senator Tom Brewer and other fellow Senators in voting to place the statute of the landmark civil righ…

There was a little-known hearing this week in Congress. The major media did not cover it. But fundamental questions about science, reason, and ethics were considered.

Energy is essential in every American’s life. We use energy to do just about everything; drive to work, heat our homes, cook meals, and power our cell phones. As diverse as the uses for energy are, so too are the sources of this energy: oil, gas, coal, nuclear, biofuels, wind, hydro, and sol…

In 1636, a small militia regiment banded together to better defend colonists who arrived in North America. We know this as the founding of the first regiment of the National Guard, the oldest component of our country’s armed forces. Since the Revolutionary War, our nation has depended on our…

In 1636, a small militia regiment banded together to better defend colonists who arrived in North America. We know this as the founding of the first regiment of the National Guard, the oldest component of our country’s armed forces. Since the Revolutionary War, our nation has depended on our…