U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced a bill that would support communities battling addiction during the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday.
The Drug-Free Communities Pandemic Relief Act would give Drug-Free Communities coalitions flexibility to address addition by allowing the Office of National Drug Control Policy to waive the program’s local matching requirements if the grantee cannot meet the requirement due to the pandemic.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a heartbreaking surge in overdose deaths, which is why it is essential that we give these coalitions the flexibility they need in order to keep their programs running. The Drug-Free Communities program is a proven, evidence-based, and community-oriented program that reduces substance abuse among our nation’s youth,” Portman said. “I have seen firsthand that prevention is a powerful tool to counteract drug use in our community, and this funding helps youth throughout Ohio make better, more healthy choices. These grants will help those on the frontlines in Ohio combat this crisis as we work together to turn the tide of addiction. It is imperative, now more than ever, that we work together to combat the crisis of addiction gripping our country, and I will continue to lead efforts in the Senate to turn the tide of this drug epidemic.”
Portman authored the Drug-Free Communities Act in 1997, which supports evidence-based community-oriented drug prevention programs. The Act improves effectiveness and accountability in drug prevention programs by capping the amount spent on administrative and overhead expenses, requiring all-coalitions that receive grants to have experience in drug abuse prevention, and to match federal funding with local funds.
“Turning the tide on the substance use disorder epidemic requires a comprehensive approach that includes robust support for youth prevention efforts,” Shaheen said. “The Drug-Free Communities program plays a crucial role in this effort by investing in frontline organizations that do tremendous work in New Hampshire and across the country to stop another generation from succumbing to this deadly epidemic. With the COVID-19 pandemic making it harder for those struggling with substance use disorder to get the care they need, ensuring these coalitions are able to continue to operate in our communities has never been more important. We have a new session of Congress with ample opportunity to make progress on bipartisan priorities, and this should be at the top of the list.”
The bill is supported by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse (MAPDA), NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD), and National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives (NPSC).