Hauppauge, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today visited Thrive Suffolk to announce her new, bipartisan legislation that would provide families with the tools they need to support their loved ones living with addiction. The Family Support Services for Addiction Act would create a $25 million grant program over five years to help nonprofits and community organizations provide support services to families with loved ones seeking addiction treatment. It would also help empower families with the resources to help loved ones struggling with addiction. The legislation comes as the country is facing a nationwide addiction epidemic—nearly 50,000 Americans died from opioid overdose from 2016 to 2017.
“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,” said Senator Gillibrand. “My Family Support Services for Addiction Act would establish a $25 million grant program over five years to help fund nonprofits like Thrive Suffolk which offer programming that aids families with a loved one suffering from addiction. This key step will support people living with substance use disorder and will encourage their recovery.”
“We’ve seen how the stigma associated with addiction has forced many families into the shadows. Families facing other diseases are provided with compassion and support. This legislation stands to help organizations offer support to families struggling with addiction, when they need it most,” said Courtney Hunter, Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs, Center on Addiction + Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. “When it comes to addiction, family involvement can make the difference between life and death. We need to empower families and provide them with support.”
“The Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD) commends Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for her leadership in recognizing the devastating illness of substance use disorders (SUD) as a family disease, requiring treatment and support throughout the entire family dynamic to recovery from the ravages of addiction. Recovery from substance use disorders becomes a greater reality as the individual and family embark on the healing process together. Thank you Senator Gillibrand for recognizing that healthier families contribute to healthier communities,” said Steve Chassman, Executive Director, Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
Families with individuals who have a substance use disorder often face the stigma of addiction and lack access to basic support services. Though organizations across the country help millions of family members affected by substance use disorder every day, these services often receive little to no government support, are not covered by insurance, and come at an additional cost to families. This makes it difficult for families to help their loved ones seek treatment and prevention services or navigate other social service systems. Also, evidence has shown that when families are involved in their loved one’s treatment and recovery, outcomes improve.
The Family Support Services for Addiction Act would help close that gap. Administered through the Department of Health and Human Services, it would provide national and local community programs that offer family support services with $25 million in grants over five years. Family support services include caregiver peer support, education and training, systems navigation for families trying to access treatment and other resources, counseling services, support groups for those in crisis and for those who have lost loved ones, and skill-building. This would help empower families with knowledge and resources to support their loved ones throughout their addiction and improve recovery outcomes.
Overdose deaths involving opioids have spiked in recent years, largely due to the opioid epidemic. From 2016-2017, nearly 50,000 Americans died due to opioid overdose, and the average national rate of overdose deaths involving opioids was 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons. During that same time period, New York experienced 3,224 opioid overdose deaths (16.1 deaths per 100,000 persons). Long Island has been hit particularly hard by the opioid crisis and lost 600 people due to opioid related deaths in 2017. That year, Suffolk County had the second most opioid related deaths in the state, per 100,000 persons.
The Family Support Services for Addiction Act is cosponsored in the Senate by U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman David Trone (D-MD-06) and Congressman Dan Meuser (R-PA-09). The legislation is endorsed by Center on Addiction + Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, The Kennedy Forum, Attack Addiction (Delaware), Not One More (Alabama), Parents Helping Parents (Oklahoma), Hope Sheds Light (New Jersey), Not One More (Pennsylvania), and Drug Free Workplace PA and Family Education (Pennsylvania).
The full text of the legislation may be found here.