Press Release

Amid Nationwide Addiction Crisis, Gillibrand Visits Utica To Announce New, Bipartisan Legislation To Support Families Struggling With Substance Use Disorder In New York

Jan 10, 2020

Utica, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today visited the Center for Family Life and Recovery 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 the Center for Family Life and Recovery, 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.”

“Addiction is a family disease because it affects the family as a whole and each member individually. Addiction is a disease that is full of fear and anxiety. The Family Support Services for Addiction Act is a promise that recovery is 100% possible for the family as well as for their loved one afflicted. Recovery is full of courage and hope,” said Cassandra Sheets, CEO, Center for Family Life and Recovery.

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). This past November, Oneida County had 21 opioid overdoses in just 15 days.

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.