Agriculture Secretary Addressing Rural Opioid Abuse - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Agriculture Secretary Addressing Rural Opioid Abuse

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The White House is taking aim at opioid drug abuse, which is a problem in Northern Nevada.  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is visiting Nevada this week, to help address the problem in rural and tribal communities.

Secretary Vilsack is leading the Obama Administration's nationwide initiative on opioid addiction and he serves as the chair of the White House Rural Council. Nevada is the fourth state Vilsack has visited since May, in order to bring together community stakeholders to address the crisis.

A round table discussion in Fallon this morning was canceled due to travel delays, however Secretary Vilsack was was able to meet with members of the Reno-Sparks Indian colony. During a press conference afterward, he outlined four areas of focus, prevention, treatment, criminal justice reform and economic development.

"We need to give them a transition," says Secretary Vilsack, "A way of getting strong, of building resistance if you will."

The President's budget is calling for more than 1.1 billion dollars to support states, like Nevada, fighting opioid abuse. Vilsack says already a 94 million dollar grant will help build or expand 271 treatment facilities across the nation. That's on top of millions more to help make drugs treating overdose more available. Vilsack also called for more transitional housing and drug courts to get people long term treatment other than prison. Finally, economic development, he says will provide hope for the people, which Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Tribal Chairman Arlan Melendez agrees with.

"Creating jobs, small business development," says Melendez, "Those type of things to give people the sense of empowerment, so that they can take their rightful place in native American communities."

Secretary Vilsack will deliver the keynote speech tomorrow at Governor Brian Sandoval's Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit in Las Vegas Wednesday. 

We will have more information on that as well as coverage both Wednesday and Thursday.

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