JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — U.S. Rep. Don Young shared a personal story about drug addiction Wednesday during a public forum, saying he has a granddaughter who has struggled to become sober.
The challenge for the woman, who is in her 20s, and others, he said, is access to services after leaving rehabilitation. The Republican said resources, like halfway houses, are needed.
He said he will spend time with the woman, whose addiction he did not describe, and she will tell him she's OK, but it only takes two or three weeks before "she falls back to those that she ran with before. That is what drives me crazy."
He shared his personal story during a forum on Alaska Native issues in Juneau, after a man spoke of his effort to get sober. Young, 85, is seeking re-election this year.
He reiterated his support of gun rights and took issue with focusing on guns in the wake of school shootings.
"I will say right up front, there is another problem. I'm one who believes we're not addressing that problem. We're picking out the instrument," he said.
He said drug dealers are "killing your kids."
"And what are we doing about the drug dealers?" he continued. "But anytime we have a shooting, it is always the gun."
Young said he would weigh a request to support legislation aimed in part at helping give tribal governments the resources and information necessary to more effectively respond to cases of missing and killed individuals. The bill sounds like the right thing to do, he said.
"I go back to why this is occurring, and mostly it's alcohol and drug related. And we have to address that issue ... you can't do it with just troopers. You have to do it with yourselves, too," he said.
Richard Peterson, president of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, said safety is the responsibility of Alaska, not just the responsibility of a sovereign community or a tribe.
"We're in this together, and we have to remember that. So I want you to all remember that and I remind you, congressman, sovereignty doesn't mean that we're alone," he said.