Senator Chuck Grassley.

Senator Chuck Grassley.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is cosponsoring legislation he says will target the rising problem of abuse and addiction to opioids — pain-killers that range from prescription medication to illegal drugs like heroin.

Grassley is chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control. Grassley says, “A bill that I’m introducing today with Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell would reauthorize a program that encourages services to help parents get away from drug abuse and back to caring for their children.”

Grassley will be taking part in a Senate Finance Committee hearing today on “Examining the Opioid Epidemic: Challenges and Opportunities.” He says the scourge of drug abuse often has far-reaching ripple effects.

“Many of the kids in foster care are there because of substance abuse at their home,” Grassley says. “A parent who’s abusing drugs isn’t able to care for a child. If the parent is able to get help, treatment takes time and may take the parent away from the home for a long period.”

The bill being introduced today is an update of legislation that was first enacted in 2006 and was reauthorized in 2011. “The latest version has a special focus on the opioid abuse that’s devastating the country right now,” Grassley says. “With the right services, children benefit from being reunited with their family members. That cycle of addiction can strike multiple generations of the same family.”

Reports find the number of Iowans dying from prescription medication overdoses increased 20-fold between 2000 and 2014, while the number of people admitted for treatment of opioid addiction rose 152 percent between 2007 and 2012. Thirty-three Iowans died from opioid overdoses in 2014.