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Bill to expand support for community addiction treatment passes House

Bill to expand support for community addiction treatment passes House
© Bonnie Cash

A bill that would establish a $25 million fund to support organizations specializing in addiction treatment and support for family members of those suffering from addiction is heading to the Senate after passing the House last week.

The Family Support Services for Addiction Act, introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOcasio-Cortez says she doesn't plan on 'staying in the House forever' Internal Democratic poll: Desiree Tims gains on Mike Turner in Ohio House race Hillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter's handling of New York Post article raises election night concerns | FCC to move forward with considering order targeting tech's liability shield | YouTube expands polices to tackle QAnon MORE (D-N.Y.) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoLawmakers hope election releases pressure on stimulus talks Tech CEOs clash with lawmakers in contentious hearing GOP power shift emerges with Trump, McConnell MORE (R-WV) in the Senate as well as Reps. David TroneDavid John TroneBill to expand support for community addiction treatment passes House US Chamber of Commerce set to endorse 23 House freshman Democrats Preventing the opioid epidemic from getting worse requires attacking it at the source MORE (D-Md.) and Dan MeuserDaniel (Dan) MeuserMORE (R-Pa.) in the House, passed the lower chamber via voice vote on Thursday.

Under the bill, local and national groups under a wide umbrella of addiction-related services would be allowed to apply for grants under a fund established to provide $25 million in grants over half a decade. Applicable groups include addiction support groups for both those with addictions and their families, education and training organizations, as well as "systems navigation" services which help families find addiction treatment centers.

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“Addressing the addiction crisis in our state requires supporting families who are impacted by the crisis every day. Families are often quickly thrown into a world of addiction and substance use disorder that they know little about, without the resources they need to support their loved ones,” Gillibrand said in a news release in February.

“This key step will support people living with substance use disorder and will encourage their recovery," she added.

Rates of addiction and substance misuse have risen across the U.S. amid the coronavirus outbreak, which has forced millions out of work and deepened economic woes for many Americans. A survey earlier this year by the Addiction Policy Forum found that 20 percent of Americans reported themselves or a family member increasing their use of recreational drugs or alcohol since the pandemic began.

A separate study last year before COVID-19 reached the U.S. found that nearly half of U.S. adults knew a family member with substance abuse issues.

The lawmakers' bill is supported by a number of national and local groups focused on battling stigmas around addiction treatment, including the Partnership to End Addiction, which operates Drugfree.org.

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One supporter of the bill pointed to the expansion of family support services as a key step in battling the stigma of addiction in an emailed statement to The Hill.

“Empowering families with inspiration and resources is key to changing the narrative and reducing the stigma of [substance abuse disorder]. As a father of a daughter who nearly lost her life to a drug overdose, I know the power of compassionate and fearless conversations,” said Robert Kanter, head of East Coast Addiction Marketing.

Updated at 7:45 p.m. to correctly refer to the Partnership to End Addiction.