Press Release

Amid Nationwide Addiction Crisis, Senators Gillibrand And Capito, Congressmen Trone And Meuser, Introduce New, Bipartisan Legislation To Support Families Struggling With Substance Use Disorder

Jan 9, 2020

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Congressman David Trone (D-MD-06), and Congressman Dan Meuser (R-PA-09) today introduced the Family Support Services for Addiction Act. The new legislation would create a $25 million grant program over five years to help national and local nonprofit organizations provide family support services for addiction treatment and would 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 and country 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 fund nonprofit-run family support services to create programming that aids families with a loved one suffering from addiction. This is one key step to helping support people living with substance use disorder and encourage their recovery.”

“As we continue to combat the addiction crisis in West Virginia and across the nation, it has become clear that addiction’s impact goes far beyond those struggling with substance use disorders,” said Senator Capito. “Too often, those surrounding this individual feel isolated, ashamed, and unsure where to turn for reliable information and advice. This bipartisan legislation will hopefully provide family members with the support, resources, and information they need to assist both their loved one struggling with addiction and all within their family who are impacted by it.”

“For five years, I navigated the complicated world of addiction and recovery services with my nephew Ian, who was addicted to opioids,” said Congressman Trone, founder of the Freshmen Working Group on Addiction in the House of Representatives. “The addiction crisis doesn’t just impact one person, it impacts the family, friends, and communities of someone seeking recovery. The bipartisan Family Support Services for Addiction Act acknowledges this impact and provides funding directly to organizations that are helping the loved ones of someone with substance use disorder beat this horrible disease.”

“The Family Support Services for Addiction Act will help families access resources to guide them through the incredibly difficult and intimidating process of helping a loved one with substance use disorder. Family support services help families navigate their insurance coverage, explore treatment options, and understand how they can best help their loved one recover. Combating the opioid epidemic has been a top priority since coming to Congress, and I believe this legislation can play a key role in ensuring those struggling get the help they need,” said Congressman Meuser.

“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.”

Organizations around the country help millions of family members affected by substance use disorder every day. These groups offer services to families that are often not provided by treatment facilities nor covered by insurance. However, most of these organizations receive little to no government support. The Family Support Services for Addiction Act would help close that gap. Administered through the Department of Health and Human Services, the Family Support Services for Addiction Act 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.

Evidence has shown that when families are involved in their loved one’s treatment and recovery, outcomes improve. Those with family members engaged in programs and services such as Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) – an evidence-based model that teaches families the skills to have productive and effective conversations and interactions with their child – show a higher treatment retention rate.

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), West Virginia experienced 833 opioid overdose deaths (49.6 per 100,000 persons), Maryland experienced 1,985 opioid overdose deaths (32.2 per 100,000 persons) and Pennsylvania experienced 4,898 opioid overdose deaths (40.3 per 100,000 person).

The Family Support Services for Addiction Act has been 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.