February 25, 2021

Gillibrand, Capito Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Support Families Struggling With Substance Use Disorder As Addiction Crisis Intensifies During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Family Support Services for Addiction Act Would Create a Grant Program to Fund Services for Families Helping Loved Ones With Substance Use Disorder

Today, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced bipartisan legislation to provide families with the tools they need to support their loved ones living with addiction. The Family Support Services for Addiction Act would provide $25 million in grant funding to help nonprofits and community organizations provide support services to families with loved ones seeking addiction treatment.

“The pandemic has exacerbated our country’s addiction crisis and we must bolster support services for those seeking treatment, and their families, to combat this troubling trend,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Equipping families with the resources they need to support loved ones battling addiction and substance use disorder is essential for recovery, especially during a pandemic that has isolated many families. Passing the Family Support Services for Addiction Act would deliver vital funding for financially strained mental health care and substance use disorder support programs and ensure resources are available to families helping people recover from substance use.”

“As we continue to combat both the COVID-19 pandemic and the addiction crisis in West Virginia and across the nation, it has become clear the strain these dual battles have on those struggling with addiction and their loved ones,” Senator Capito said.“ Now, more than ever, individuals and their families are feeling 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 ones struggling with substance use disorders 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. “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.”

“Addiction is an epidemic that affects each of our communities,” said Congressman Meuser. “The Family Support Services for Addiction Act would deliver important federal aid to community organizations that help families navigate insurance coverage, explore treatment options and understand how best to assist their loved one on the road to recovery. I want to thank Congressman Trone for his exceptional work on this legislation and look forward to the day when it is signed into law.”

“The Family Support Services for Addiction Act is a critical lifeline for families. We know that when families are involved, informed and supported, the outcomes for those with addiction are better,” said Marcia Lee Taylor, Chief External and Government Relations Officer at Partnership to End Addiction. By creating a grant program for local organizations, this legislation will fund support services that are so desperately needed in communities across the country.”

“The Family Support Services for Addiction Act addresses a crucial element of recovery from substance use disorders: the role of the family. Few diseases impact entire families the way addiction does, and we must have resources available to address this issue. This legislation recognizes that families can be a key element in recovery, especially if the proper resources are available to them. If we are fully committed to recovery that is complete and enduring, we must pass this legislation and continue to build on its message. Recovery benefits not only the individual, but an entire community- and especially families.” — Pete Nielsen, CEO, California Consortium of Addiction Programs & Professionals (CCAPP)

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated challenges for those already suffering from mental health and substance use disorders as Americans have adjusted to social isolation, increased financial stress, loss of work, lack of structured time, and daily uncertainty. Across New York, hospitals, along with inpatient- and outpatient-treatment programs, have seen dramatic increases in patients with substance use disorders and experts the pandemic has stalled progress in addressing the state’s opioid crisis. The CDC reported over 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States between July 2019 and June 2020 — the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period. 

Before the pandemic, families with individuals who have a substance use disorder often struggled to access basic support services, and even when services are offered, they usually come at an additional cost. Now, as providers and organizations are overwhelmed by need and struggling to stay afloat because of the financial uncertainty originating from the pandemic, these services are even harder to access. This makes it difficult for families to help their loved ones seek treatment and prevention services or navigate other social service systems. The Family Support Services for Addiction Act would establish a federal grant program to help nonprofits and community organizations offer support to families of individuals struggling with substance use disorder. This would help empower families with knowledge and resources to support their loved ones throughout their addiction and improve recovery outcomes. 

The Family Support Services for Addiction Act would bolster national and local community programs that offer family support services by delivering $25 million in grants through the Department of Health and Human Services 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. 

Throughout the pandemic, Senator Gillibrand has fought to support the needs of New Yorkers struggling with mental health and substance use disorders, and their families. Earlier this month, she sent a letter alongside Congressman David Trone urging congressional leadership to include $10 billion funding for substance use disorder and mental health care services in the next coronavirus relief package. She repeatedly called on Senate leadership to include robust funding for substance use disorder and mental health care services as Congress negotiated the last relief package. Gillibrand and Trone previously introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Family Support Services Act to 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. 

Full text of the legislation can be found here.