WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Donald Trump has signed into law 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 were included as part of broader legislation, expand an existing youth substance use disorder program to include young adults and help support the identification of best practices for overcoming barriers to medication assisted treatment (MAT) for young people.
“The opioid crisis has indelibly damaged the lives of Michiganders from every walk of life, and the effects of opioid use are especially tragic for young people with their whole lives ahead of them,” said Senator Peters. “Although this epidemic has already taken away countless graduations, weddings and grandchildren from affected families, I am pleased that this new law with help provide greater access to lifesaving medication-assisted treatment and put adolescents and young adults on the path to recovery.”
“The president’s signing of this important legislation into law codifies the federal government’s response in addressing the opioid epidemic,” Senator Capito said. “I’m proud the YOUTH Act is a part of what is now law and for that we finally got this bipartisan focus on young adults struggling with addiction across the finish line.”
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 SUPPORT Act, legislation to increase federal agency efforts to properly address the opioid epidemic, including the effects of the crisis on children, families, and communities, researching and developing non-addictive pain killers, creating more flexibility to use telemedicine for SUD treatment, preventing drug diversion or illicit distribution of controlled substances 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.