Spanberger bill addresses drug overdose epidemic

opioid crisis
Photo Credit: Robert Wilson

Virginia reported a record number of drug overdose deaths in 2020 — including a 47 percent increase in the number of opioid-related deaths from 2019 to 2020.

Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) this week introduced a bipartisan bill that would create permanent federal funding for addiction recovery services, allow states and recovery organizations to build long-term strategies to prevent drug overdose deaths, and help individuals in recovery from addiction rebuild their lives.

Spanberger introduced this bipartisan bill in response to the concerns of Central Virginia community leaders, law enforcement officials, addiction recovery organizations, and healthcare providers — all of which have sounded the alarm about rising rates of overdose deaths in the Commonwealth.

The Support Recovery from Addiction Act would create a permanent 10 percent set-aside within the Substance Abuse Block Grant program for recovery support services. This set-aside would require states to spend a portion of their SABG funding on recovery programs with a record of success and peer support specialist programs that help Virginians stay sober.

This dedicated funding stream would strengthen investment in the recovery space and give states and providers the certainty they need to carry out longer-term planning.

“The COVID-19 crisis exacerbated the ongoing substance abuse epidemic in Virginia — all while making it more difficult to identify those experiencing addiction and relapse. Additionally, it demonstrated the need to support community programs that help addicts and their loved ones build a path towards long-term, sustainable recovery — not just short-term treatment. With each story I hear from a family member about their son, daughter, or parent lost to overdose, I am more committed than ever to making sure local organizations have what they need to turn the tide against the disease of addiction,” Spanberger said.

“This bipartisan legislation would help build and maintain a stronger community recovery response in Central Virginia. By establishing a 10 percent set-aside, this bill would provide much-needed assistance to recovery-focused community centers, homes, schools, and ministries that are already doing the hard work of helping those struggling with addiction and assisting them as they navigate towards recovery. We can provide hope, end the stigma, and make peer recovery services accessible — but we need to demonstrate the federal willpower necessary to sustain recovery programs for the long haul,” said Spanberger, who introduced this legislation alongside David B. McKinley (R-WV-01).

“This bill is one more tool to use in the fight against substance abuse and addiction. By establishing a consistent, predictable, and dedicated source of funding, programs can have more confidence in their ability to continue providing recovery support for those that need it,” said McKinley. “With a 30 percent increase in overdoses since just last year, we must do all we can to end this epidemic.”

“Across the country, a deadly crisis continues to unfold in our communities — in 2020 alone, we saw more than 93,000 deaths due to drug overdose. Recovery services are an essential part of our nation’s response to this epidemic. In Chesterfield, our HARP program has helped inmates and former inmates connect with peer counselors who mentor those who are new to sobriety. As a result, there is a thriving support network in Chesterfield for recovering addicts both inside and outside the county jail,” Chesterfield County Sheriff Karl S. Leonard said.

“That’s why I would like to thank Rep. Spanberger for introducing the Support Recovery from Addiction Act. By creating a permanent funding stream for HARP and similar recovery programs across the country, her bill would bring hope to individuals with substance use disorder and support their transition to healthier and more productive lives,” Leonard said.

“The McShin Foundation is grateful that Rep. Spanberger is working on this bipartisan effort that acknowledges and supports recovery as one of the primary solutions to the substance use disorder epidemic,” said John Shinholser, co-founder & president, The McShin Foundation. “Community-based, non-governmental organizations are a crucial link to long-term recovery. When we invest in recovery, we build stronger families, we create safer communities, and we produce healthier citizens.”

“The evidence is clear that recovery support services—such as recovery community organizations, housing, transportation, and peer services—provide outcomes that, when complemented by the appropriate level of care and treatment, lead people toward positive long-term outcomes,” said Ryan Hampton, person in long-term recovery, advocate, founder of the Voices Project — a national non-profit addiction recovery advocacy organization. “Without these critical, community-based recovery supports and a sustainable funding infrastructure for their development moving forward, America’s overdose statistics will continue to trend in the wrong direction. The Support Recovery from Addiction Act is a giant leap forward in closing this long-standing funding gap and addressing the overdose crisis as the true public health emergency that it is.”

Spanberger’s set-aside would support the development of local recovery community support institutions, provide new assistance to existing institutions, and help these organizations develop strategies, educational campaigns, trainings, and events to provide addiction treatment and recovery resources.

Additionally, this set-aside would be used by local organizations to reduce discrimination and stigma at the local level, increase access to peer recovery support services, and coordinate with local healthcare providers, law enforcement organizations, and public health agencies in these response efforts.

The SABG program accounts for approximately 25 percent of total state substance abuse agency funding and 62 percent of total state substance abuse prevention and public health funding. Individuals without insurance or whose insurance does not cover certain services rely on these SABG funds to access treatment and recovery services.

Click here to read the full bill text.


augusta free press news