04.24.18

Peters, Capito Provision Expanding Opioid Treatment for Adolescents Advances in Senate

Senate HELP Committee Included Language from YOUTH Act in Bipartisan Bill to Combat Opioid Epidemic

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) today approved provisions based off the YOUTH Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to help expand access to opioid addiction treatment for adolescents and young adults. Peters and Capito’s provision passed as part of broader legislation addressing the opioid crisis. Among other provisions, the legislation passed today expands an existing substance abuse program to boost outreach to young adults and improves resources for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for youth.

“Almost everyone in Michigan knows someone who has been impacted by the opioid crisis, and the numbers are only getting worse. Drug overdose among teens have more than doubled over the past twenty years,” said Senator Peters. “We need a comprehensive approach to prevent opioid addiction with the most effective tools for treating youth substance abuse. This legislation is an important and necessary step to bring greater awareness to lifesaving treatments for adolescents and young adults.”

“Drug addiction knows no boundaries. Our friends, loved ones, and neighbors have all been affected, and we run the risk of losing an entire generation if we neglect to take bold action,” Senator Capito said. “Solutions like the YOUTH Act will help address the problem early on and strengthen efforts to treat youth substance abuse. I was glad to work with Senator Peters on securing this provision in the Opioid Crisis Response Act, which will help us stop even more young people in West Virginia and across the country from becoming victims of this growing epidemic.”

The use of certain medications – such as buprenorphine – has been shown to be a safe and effective treatment for opioid addiction and improves success rates for continuing treatment and recovery. MAT, which combines behavioral therapy with buprenorphine and other drugs, is an essential public health tool to prevent future loss of life for those suffering from opioid addiction. However, MAT is often designed for adults, making it more difficult for adolescents to access this proven treatment.

The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 will improve the efforts of federal agencies to help address the opioid epidemic, including the ripple effects of the crisis on children, families, and communities, and improve data sharing between states. Among other provisions, the legislation requires the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to identify and develop best practices for preventing and treating opioid addiction, including the use of MAT and ways to overcome existing barriers to MAT among youth. The legislation will also provide three-year grants to youth-focused entities for carrying out substance abuse treatment, prevention, and recovery support services. It also expands an existing youth substance use disorder program at HHS to include services for young adults as well as children and adolescents.

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