The USDA is hosting a series of roundtable discussions to learn more about the opioid epidemic and its impact on rural communities, and Minnesota’s U.S. Senator has extended an invitation.

“I am urging them to come to Minnesota,” Senator Tina Smith explained, “I want them to hear about some of the challenges that we’re facing in Minnesota as well as some of the great work we are doing to fight this epidemic.”

Smith said the crisis has hit one segment of the Minnesota population particularly hard, “Native American communities. So, the bill that I have introduced is specifically geared toward helping tribes get the help that they need.”

And she added that evidence has shown that targeted treatment options are more effective in the fight against drug abuse and, “If you have treatment and recovery options that are geared toward people’s religious faith or their cultural traditions it’s much, much more effective.”

The bill would create a Special Behavioral Health Program for Indians, and it’s modeled after an existing program that addresses high rates of diabetes among Native Americans.