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Bill to expand support for community addiction treatment passes House

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 GillibrandMeeting Trump Supreme Court pick a bridge too far for some Democrats Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election MORE (D-N.Y.) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoHillicon Valley: Senate panel votes to subpoena Big Tech executives | Amazon says over 19,000 workers tested positive for COVID-19 | Democrats demand DHS release report warning of election interference GOP senators call on Trump to oppose nationalizing 5G Congress must finish work on popular conservation bill before time runs out MORE (R-WV) in the Senate as well as Reps. David TroneDavid John TroneUS Chamber of Commerce set to endorse 23 House freshman Democrats Preventing the opioid epidemic from getting worse requires attacking it at the source Bicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers 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.

“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 Center on Addiction and Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, which operates Drugfree.org.

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.

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