Oregon Gov. Kate Brown told a congressional committee Thursday that they need to focus on treating people with substance abuse issues instead of punishing them.
Brown appeared at the U.S. Capitol for the Senate health committee’s special hearing on opioids.
She told the story of her stepson, whose daily routine centered around getting high. Brown said a teacher caught him abusing drugs in high school, but when the family tried to get him help, their health insurance stood in the way.
“He had to go through two separate outpatient and inpatient treatments and relapses before our insurance would cover the residential program he so desperately needed,” the governor said.
Brown said the federal government recognizes the problem, but added that the war on drugs has only made the problem worse.
"That leaves us, the states, to right the wrongs of a war on drugs that has done nothing to address the issues that drive this health crisis, while our prisons and our foster care systems are filled to capacity with its victims," said Brown.
"I know that you have held several sessions on the opioid crisis to date, and I applaud this committee for taking such a close, thoughtful look at the issue."
President Donald Trump declared an opioid crisis last year.
The White House also recently proposed $13 billion in new funding for treatment with the Department of Health.