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January 27, 2020

Fighting addiction: Family Support Services Act merits passage

Credit: Herald Mail-Media, Mike Lewis

The addiction crisis in West Virginia necessitates the need for additional family support services for addiction treatment. But getting the needed help to those families with loved ones who are dealing with a substance use disorder requires additional funding, both on the state and federal level.

Finding funding to combat the addiction crisis, and to help those families who are dealing with the struggle against addiction, should be a priority of both state and federal lawmakers. That’s why we welcome the Family Support Services for Addiction Act, a bipartisan, bicameral measure backed by U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.

Capito was joined last week by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and U.S. Representatives David Trone, D-Md. and Dan Meuser, R-Pa., in introducing this important federal measure.

 

According to Capito, 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 measure, which appears to have bipartisan support in Congress, comes at an important time.

It is estimated that nearly 50,000 Americans died  between 2016 and 2017 as a result of the nationwide addiction epidemic. 

During that same time period, West Virginia experienced 833 opioid overdose deaths (or 49.6 per 100,000 persons), Capito’s office said last week.

“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,” Capito said. “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.”

Organizations around the country help millions of family members affected by substance use disorder every day, according to Capito. 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 will help close that gap.

 

Administered through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 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.

Capito said 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, and other related measures designed to help the states combat the addiction crisis, demand immediate action from Congress.

Inaction is no longer an option when comes to dealing with the opioid crisis.