Hawaii women solons join national drive vs. opioid abuse epidemic
HONOLULU – Hawaii state women lawmakers urged legislators to use a mental health and substance abuse policy tool kit in crafting policies that help their constituents.
State Sen. Rosalyn Baker, Rep. Della Au Belatti and Rep. Lauren Matsumoto, together with members of the Hawaii Women’s Legislative Caucus, joined lawmakers around the country in promoting the Women In Government’s Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders’ Policy Toolkit, as well as addressing the growing epidemic of opioid abuse.
The toolkit is meant to educate legislators on issues surrounding mental health and substance abuse and to assist legislators in developing policies to help their communities and to pass effective legislation.
The Women’s Caucus has spotlighted the growing epidemic of opioid abuse. An estimated 2.1 million Americans suffer from substance abuse disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers.
The number of Americans who develop a dependency on opioid drugs has more than quadrupled since 1999, while in Hawaii, drug overdoses increased 83 percent between 2006 and 2014.
“The opioid epidemic is one that threatens our community and loved ones,” says Rep. Matsumoto. “Legislators nationwide are recognizing the severity of this issue and are coming together to share ideas and best practices and shine light on this epidemic.”
A number of opioid-related measures will be introduced this legislative session. “What is encouraging is that over the last few years we have been able to move forward on this issue with bipartisan support,” says Rep. Belatti.
Sen. Baker chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health; Rep. Belatti is chair of the House Committee on Health; and Rep. Matsumoto serves on the national board of Women in Government. ALL three legislators are co-convenors of the State Women’s Caucus.