Peters, Capito Provisions Improving Opioid Treatment for Adolescents Passes Senate

Includes Language from YOUTH Act in Bipartisan Bill to Combat Opioid Epidemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate today passed provisions based off the YOUTH Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to expand access to safe, effective treatment for adolescents and young adults struggling with opioid addiction. The provisions, which passed as part of broader legislation, expand an existing youth substance use disorder program to include young adults and will identify best practices for overcoming barriers to medication assisted treatment (MAT) for young people.

“Youth who have fallen victim to opioid addiction deserve every opportunity to recover, hold onto their future aspirations, and lead stable and fulfilling lives,” said Senator Peters. “We must continue to strive for a comprehensive approach to stem the rising tide of opioid addiction, especially among young people, and provide greater access to lifesaving medication-assisted treatment for adolescents and young adults.” 

“I’m proud to have worked with Senator Peters to introduce the YOUTH Act to help support youth substance abuse programs, and I’m even more proud to have helped secure its inclusion in the Opioid Crisis Response Act,” Senator Capito said. “Addressing substance abuse among young adults early on and boosting MAT treatments can help increase the odds of recovery and improve his or her chance to build a brighter, drug-free future.”

Click here to view Senator Peters’ floor speech in support of opioid treatment bill 

The use of certain medications – such as buprenorphine – has been proven to be a safe and effective treatment for opioid addiction and increases success rates for continuing treatment and recovery. MAT, which fuses behavioral therapy with buprenorphine or other medications, is a vital public health tool to prevent future loss of life for those suffering from opioid addiction. Despite an expansive body of research on the effectiveness of this treatment, MAT is still underutilized and is even less available to youth than to adults.

The Peters and Capito provisions passed as part of the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, legislation to increase federal agency efforts to properly address the opioid epidemic, including the effects of the crisis on children, families, and communities, and streamline data sharing between states. Among other provisions, the legislation requires the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to improve existing practices for preventing and treating opioid addiction, including the use of MAT and ways to overcome existing barriers to MAT for youth.

The legislation will provide three-year grants to youth-focused entities for carrying out substance use disorder treatment, prevention, and recovery support services. It will expand an existing youth substance use disorder program at HHS to include services for young adults as well as children and adolescents. Senators Peters and Capito also authored an amendment in last month’s Labor, Health and Human Services spending bill that directs the Administrator of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to submit a report to Congress within 180 days on agency activities related to MAT.