During National Recovery Month, Spanberger Presses House Leadership to Support Addiction & Recovery Programs Through the Substance Abuse Block Grant Program

Sep 21, 2022
Healthcare
Press

Fatal Drug Overdose Has Been the Leading Cause of Unnatural Death in Virginia Since 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today pressed U.S. House leadership to include stronger funding for the federal Substance Abuse Block Grant (SABG) program in legislation that is being negotiated to combat overdose and substance use disorder in American communities.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, fatal drug overdose has been the leading cause of unnatural death in Virginia since 2013, surpassing motor vehicle- and gun-related deaths. Opioids, specifically fentanyl, have been the driving force behind the large increases in fatal overdoses since 2013. Sadly, Virginia saw a 15.5 percent increase in drug overdose deaths from 2020 to 2021.

Spanberger has long supported the SABG program to combat these high rates of overdose deaths. In August 2021, the Congresswoman introduced bipartisan legislation to create a permanent ten percent set-aside within the SABG program for recovery support services.

In a letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Reps. Spanberger and Paul Tonko (D-NY-20) pressed the Speaker to secure the highest possible level of funding for the SABG program as U.S. House and U.S. Senate leaders work to finalize text of a bill to invest in recovery support services. Additionally, Spanberger and Tonko stressed the importance of reliable, dedicated funding for recovery services in promoting long-term recovery from substance use disorder.

“The federal Substance Abuse Block Grant (SABG) program funds states’ efforts to plan, implement, and evaluate activities that prevent and treat substance abuse,” said Spanberger and Tonko. “For many states, the SABG program is the largest single source of federal funding for their efforts to fight the substance use disorder crisis. We were proud that an overwhelming majority of the U.S. House voted for H.R. 7666, the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act to reauthorize the SABG program for 5 years and provide states and other grantees with certainty about their federal funding levels.

Their letter continued, “After the House acted, we were excited to see bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate that would authorize a higher rate of annual funding than the House-passed version and add a ten percent set-aside for recovery support services. A higher authorization level will give SABG grantees the certainty they need to make long-term investments in providing treatment and recovery services, developing delivery models to improve access to care such as 24-hour treatment lines, and investing in training and education to address provider shortages.”

“McShin Foundation is grateful for Rep. Spanberger’s leadership in advancing funding and access for peer recovery support services. Her bill will allow community based organizations to meet people where THEY are,” said Honesty Liller, CEO, McShin Foundation.

“This bill is supported by 551 local state and national organizations and must be included in any final bill passed by the House and Senate this year,” said John Shinholser, Founder, McShin Foundation.

Click here to read the letter, and the full letter text is below.

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

We thank you for your commitment to passing comprehensive legislation to respond to the overdose and substance use disorder epidemics. As states report another year of record-high numbers of overdoses, we urge you to provide the Substance Abuse Block Grant program with the highest possible authorization level and realize a long-term commitment to funding for the recovery support services that help individuals maintain their sobriety.

The federal Substance Abuse Block Grant (SABG) program funds states’ efforts to plan, implement, and evaluate activities that prevent and treat substance abuse. For many states, the SABG program is the largest single source of federal funding for their efforts to fight the substance use disorder crisis. We were proud that an overwhelming majority of the U.S. House voted for H.R. 7666, the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act to reauthorize the SABG program for 5 years and provide states and other grantees with certainty about their federal funding levels.

After the House acted, we were excited to see bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate that would authorize a higher rate of annual funding than the House-passed version and add a ten percent set-aside for recovery support services. A higher authorization level will give SABG grantees the certainty they need to make long-term investments in providing treatment and recovery services, developing delivery models to improve access to care such as 24-hour treatment lines, and investing in training and education to address provider shortages.

The increased authorization level will also allow for the creation of a dedicated funding stream for recovery services that support individuals seeking to stay sober. According to the Surgeon General, it can take four to five years in recovery before the risk of relapse drops below 15%, which is also the level of risk a member of the general population has of developing a substance use disorder in their lifetime. Sustained funding for the community services, schools, ministries, and housing providers that support individuals in recovery is essential for our communities to make an enduring recovery from the addiction epidemic.

As you prepare to conference with the Senate on a final bill to respond to the opioid crisis, we urge you to prioritize securing the highest possible level of funding for the SABG and the creation of a dedicated funding stream for recovery services. A strong commitment to SABG funding and recovery services will send a hopeful message to the communities struggling with the substance use disorder epidemic that people can and do recover. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

In June 2022, an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority of the U.S. House passed legislation that would provide $1.9 billion to reauthorize the SABG program for five years. Following this vote, the U.S. Senate introduced its own version of this legislation that would authorize a higher rate of annual funding — $3.3 billion per year — for the SABG program, as well as a permanent 10 percent set-aside for recovery support service. The House-passed version includes only additional reporting requirements around funding of recovery services. This increased authorization level in the Senate-proposed legislation would allow for the creation of a dedicated funding stream for recovery services to support individuals at all points along their path to recovery.

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