Tester, Heitkamp seek solutions to beat drug abuse in the Bakken

Senators host National Drug Czar in Glendive, Bismarck; hear best ways to prevent oil field drug use

(BISMARCK, N.D.) – Senators Jon Tester and Heidi Heitkamp today brought one of the nation’s biggest names in drug control to Montana and North Dakota to discuss ways to defeat drug abuse in the Bakken oil region.

At hearings in Glendive and Bismarck, Tester and Heitkamp heard testimony and took questions alongside National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske. The trio, joined by numerous local and state officials, talked about the best ways to prevent drug abuse, improve treatment, and build healthier and safer communities across the growing region.

“Growth in the Bakken is strengthening our economy and creating new jobs and opportunities in Montana, but with that growth comes challenges,” Tester said. “Drug abuse is one of those challenges and today we got to hear firsthand how to support rural communities and make sure we are doing everything we can to prevent drug use and help folks lead safe, healthy lives.”

“My goal with these meeting was to give North Dakota officials an opportunity to speak directly with Director Kerlikowske as we work to root out drug abuse and crime,” Heitkamp said. “This trip will certainly help Director Kerlikowske as he works with the President to address the unique drug challenges that states in the Northern Great Plains face. I will coordinate closely with North Dakota federal officials to tackle these challenges.”

In the most recent National Survey of Drug Use and Health, Montana was one of the top 10 states for rates in several drug-use categories, including illicit drug dependence or abuse among young people. Just this month, federal law enforcement announced an indictment of more than 20 individuals charged with running a major drug ring in northwest North Dakota.

Tester and Heitkamp were joined at the Bismarck meeting by North Dakota Senator John Hoeven in Bismarck.

“Today’s discussions in North Dakota and Montana serve as important forums for our states to join together in our continued efforts to prevent and address the negative impacts increased drug use is having in the Bakken oil field,” Hoeven said. “The growth we are seeing in the Bakken region brings unique opportunities and challenges to our states. Today’s meetings reflect our continued commitment to increasing awareness about drug use and to working with local leaders and law enforcement to implement smart prevention and treatment measures that will help maintain the strong, healthy and safe communities that have long characterized the cities along the North Dakota-Montana border.”

Tester and Heitkamp’s first meeting was held at the Glendive Medical Center, where they were joined by U.S. Attorney for Montana Mike Cotter. Later in the day at Bismarck State College, the pair were accompanied by Hoeven, U.S. Attorney for North Dakota Tim Purdon and North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.

More information about Kerlikowske and his Office of National Drug Control Policy is available HERE.