Addiction specialist testifies before Congress on substance abuse

Addiction specialist testifies before Congress on substance abuse

Dr. Shawn Ryan, American Society of Addiction Medicine’s Legislative Advocacy Committee chairman, recently testified before the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Health Subcommittee about legislation addressing the nation’s addiction crisis.

At the hearing, Combatting an Epidemic: Legislation to Help Patients with Substance Use Disorders, Ryan urged Congress to take legislative action that creates sustainable and robust addiction prevention and treatment systems.

Ryan said there are three things on which Congress should focus. There needs to be an increase in the number of qualified, well-trained addiction treatment professionals, rethinking how grant programs award funds and holding grantees accountable for the funds, and strongly enforcing mental health and addiction parity to ensure everyone is adequately covered for care.

“Sadly, to date, our nation hasn’t fully tackled the addiction and overdose crisis like the systemic problem that it is,” Ryan said. “We know that systemic change – disrupting the status quo that is falling short of its potential – is exceptionally difficult and won’t happen overnight. But given the magnitude of the problem we face, it is both necessary and worth it to end this suffering being experienced across our nation, in our communities, and by American families.”

The subcommittee heard testimony on three bills that would strengthen addiction treatment and training.