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Top U.S. Senators for Education Pitch Youth Prevention to Fight Opioid Epidemic

A new blueprint for fighting opioid addiction from Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., focuses in part on preventing addiction in young people and helping children recover from opioid-related trauma. 

The senators' proposals were included in a draft of the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 released earlier this week. Alexander and Murray are the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate education committee. They're also proposing to create a task force that would create programs to help children cope with trauma related to opioids. 

Much of the legislation focuses on issues beyond children. But here is the section of the draft that deals with youth recovery programs, and would require the involvement of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos: 

Youth Prevention and Recovery Initiative - To help prevent abuse and misuse and support treatment of, and recovery from, opioid use disorder, in children, adolescents, and young adults, this program would require the Secretary of HHS, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, to disseminate best practices and issue grants for prevention and treatment of and recovery from substance use disorder.

And here are two more sections of the plan from Murray and Alexander that could impact school-age children:

Interagency Task Force - To help identify, prevent, and address the impact of trauma on children and youth, including trauma related to substance abuse, this creates a task force to recommend best practices for supporting children and families who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing trauma.

Pilot Program on Delivery of Trauma-Informed Support Practices - To better support children and families impacted by the opioids crisis, this will create a grant to increase student support services and better integrate mental health care. 

Alexander discussed the proposals in a video he posted to Twitter on Wednesday, and said he would hold a committee hearing addressing opioids next week:

The White House released its own approach to combating opioid addiction last month that focuses on law enforcement and interdiction, as well as treatment and recovery programs. President Donald Trump has also supported imposing the death penalty on some drug dealers

Read the draft of the Alexander-Murray legislation below:

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