Esty, MacArthur, and Larson Introduces Legislation to Curb Opioid Addiction Among Students
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Today, Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT-5), a member of the bipartisan Opioid Task Force in the House, introduced legislation to address concerns about the rising use of opioid drugs among student athletes. Esty’s bill is the House companions to Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH) bill in the Senate.
The Student and Student Athlete Opioid Misuse Prevention Act, which she introduced with Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) and Rep. John Larson (D-CT), would augment current drug prevention programs to allow schools, communities, and youth athletic associations to provide evidence-based prevention programing to reduce the risk of opioid addiction and overdose among students and student athletes.
“In cities and towns throughout central and northwest Connecticut, families have shared with me devastating stories of confronting opioid addiction,” Esty said. “We must take steps to ensure our communities affected by this epidemic have access to the prevention resources and services they need to assist students and allow student athletes to recover and move forward. To halt the terrible impact that drug addiction is having on our schools and universities, we must also work to prevent folks from becoming addicted in the first place. I’m committed to working across party lines to ensure that we heal everyone we can.”
“The rising number of preventable opioid deaths in our country, especially among young people who have their entire lives ahead of them, is a national tragedy. I thank my colleagues Reps. Esty and MacArthur for their leadership on this issue. We must continue to fight this terrible scourge that is plaguing our communities and shattering so many lives. In order to so, we must invest in the preventative measures that are required to reduce the risk of opioid misuse amongst our student athletes who are often at higher opioid abuse risk when prescribed pain medication,” said Larson.
The bill would also authorize the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use to provide funding to support prevention programs for students and student athletes, as well as training for teachers, administrators, trainers, coaches, and athletic directors, specifically targeted at mitigating the risk of opioid addiction and overdose.
Esty’s bill has support from the National Parent Teacher Associations (PTA). In 2015, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) released a report that found that 23 percent of college athletes reported receiving a prescription for pain medication. Overdose deaths for those 19 and younger increased 165 percent from 1997 to 2012.
Esty was a member of the bipartisan Opioid Conference Committee for the House and Senate versions of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) in 2016. The legislation authorized $77.9 million per year from fiscal years 2016 through 2020 and devoted funds for treatment and recovery services, alternatives to prison for nonviolent offenders, law enforcement initiatives, and programs to prevent overdose deaths and improper prescriptions. Two Esty-sponsored provisions on consumer and provider education about the risk of prescription opioid addiction were included in the final legislation.