U.S. Reps. Vega and Mooney push for evidence-based K-12 curriculum on substance abuse

A new bill introduced by U.S. Reps. Filemon Vela (D-TX) and Alex Mooney (R-WV), the Saving America’s Future by Educating Kids (SAFE) Kids Act, proposes to allow the development and use of an evidence-based curriculum for K-12 students that addresses both substance misuse and abuse.

“I am proud to introduce bipartisan legislation that uses data to increase substance abuse education for our children and teens. America’s youth deserve the educational tools that have been proven to result in better health outcomes than many outdated substance abuse prevention methods,” Vela said. “Providing our nation’s adolescents with evidence-based resources to curb recent spikes in substance use will help in alleviating these harmful and deadly addictions among our young people.”

While the bill focuses on opioid abuse, it does veer into adjacent items. Dangers and harmful effects associated with vaping, e-cigarettes, tobacco and others all have a place in the education proposal. Mooney noted that the curriculum would be reached through a grant program at the U.S. Department of Education.

“This legislation will help equip our children with the knowledge and resources to combat the opioid epidemic, which took the lives of over 70,000 Americans last year,” Mooney said. “I’m glad to see Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle coming together on proactive solutions for the next generation now facing this devastating crisis.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 128 people died in the U.S. from opioid overdoses in 2018 every day. The Department of Health and Human Services added that some 2 million people had an opioid use disorder that same year.

A separate bill, also called the SAFE Kids Act, was introduced in the Senate in February by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

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