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January 12, 2020

Trone, Capito push for grant program to help families of addicts

Credit: Herald Mail-Media, Julie E. Greene

Jade Kenney has seen how difficult it can be for those fighting addiction to find the resources they need.

On the flip side, as a community health worker for the Maryland Area Health Education Center West, which serves Western Maryland, she also has seen the nonprofit help families of those dealing with drug and alcohol addiction.

So Kenney said she’s hoping Maryland U.S. Rep. David Trone, D-6th, and his colleagues are successful in pursuing the creation of a $25 million grant program that would help local and national nonprofits provide family support services for addiction treatment.


Trone and Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Pa., introduced a bill last week for the Family Support Services for Addiction Act. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., are sponsoring the act in the Senate.

The proposed legislation is bipartisan, and so is addiction, Trone said.

There’s been a lot of focus on trying to provide assistance for those with addictions, but the need to support the families trying to help those individuals has been overlooked, Trone said in an interview Friday.

The proposed $25 million grant program, over five years, would help families access support services to “navigate their insurance coverage, explore treatment options and understand how they can best help their loved one recover,” Meuser said in a news release.

Too often, those surrounding people struggling with substance-use disorders “feel isolated, ashamed, and unsure where to turn for reliable information and advice,” Capito said in the release. “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.”

Trone referenced the years he and his wife were trying to help his late nephew, who fatally overdosed in 2016.

Despite being a person with “resources,” Trone said he struggled finding and deciding on treatment centers, halfway houses and whether to get Ian therapy for the mental-health issues that often are a “huge” factor with addicts.

“There’s all these choices,” and mistakes are made, he said.

Like the time he thought he’d found a halfway house for Ian run by a good man, only to discover later, after Ian was staying there, that the owner/operator had relapsed with his own drug addiction.

Trone said he wished he’d had someone he could have called for assistance in finding the right place.

The health education center where Kenney works is in Cumberland, but its service area includes Washington County.


One of the things the center does is help people get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, Executive Director Susan Stewart said.

If the grant program allows funding for educational services like that, it could help the regional health education center.

The center also collaborates with other nonprofits that could benefit from funding to help families of those dealing with substance abuse, she said.

Kenney also is familiar with the need for supportive services because she’s a recovered addict.

Returning from Seattle, where she went through recovery treatment, Kenney said she cried because she feared she would relapse in her hometown because Cumberland didn’t have the same resources as Seattle.

The proposed grant program could help such rural communities, she said.