October 18, 2021

Congressman Neguse Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Reauthorize Youth Substance Abuse Initiative

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Joe Neguse, along with Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Ann Kuster (D-NH), Don Bacon (R-NE) and Bill Foster (D-IL) unveiled bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Substance Abuse Affected Youth Initiative, a Department of Justice (DOJ) initiative to ensure public health and safety by taking steps to address youth substance abuse. The program supports efforts of states, communities, tribal jurisdictions, nonprofits, for-profit organizations and institutions of higher education in identifying, responding to, and treating substance abuse issues in young people. This bill reauthorizes and funds the program, which is set to expire in FY2022, through FY2026.

“Across our country, too many people—young people especially—tragically lose their lives to substance abuse,” said Neguse. “Supporting proven, well-established treatment-focused prevention and recovery strategies is vital in lifting our communities out of the cycles of substance abuse that have claimed so many lives. I am proud to introduce legislation to reauthorize this crucial program and support the young people of Colorado’s Second Congressional District.” 

“Providing resources that enable youth to foster an increased sense of belonging and connection to their peers, trusted adults and communities is critical to preventing substance misuse and to creating a healthy environment for treatment and recovery,” said Kent MacLennan, executive director of Rise Above Colorado.  “We applaud Rep. Neguse’s leadership to enhance the Opioid-Affected Youth Initiative’s focus on substance misuse more broadly and to build multidisciplinary and data-driven efforts across the full spectrum of care, from prevention to recovery.”

“I am proud to join Rep. Neguse in introducing bipartisan legislation that will reauthorize the DOJ’s Substance Abuse Affected Youth Initiative,” said Fitzpatrick. “Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we provide critical support to vulnerable youth who are impacted by substance abuse, and this initiative achieves that.”

“Substance abuse affects thousands of youths every year and we must do everything we can to help them overcome it before they lose their loves or get stuck in a cycle of repeating the abuse throughout their adult lives,” said Bacon. “I’m pleased to join Reps. Neguse and Fitzpatrick to reauthorize this program, which has already made an impact in the lives of our youths.”

“Substance abuse damages the lives of far too many of our young people, but the situation is not hopeless: Research has clearly shown that early intervention can help curb addiction and its harshest consequences,” said Foster. “I’m proud to join Rep. Neguse in introducing bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Substance Abuse Affected Youth Initiative, a program that helps thousands of young people across the country get the treatment they need.”

“Every life lost to substance use is a tragedy, and Congress must continue to build on ongoing efforts to support those in recovery and expand access to treatment,” said Kuster. “Expanding this data-driven program will give more states like New Hampshire the opportunity to better support families affected by substance use disorder and end the stigma of addiction.”

Since its 2018 inception, the DOJ’s initiative has served over 5,000 young people across the country. Its network spans over 200 local state and federal agencies and has solidified more than 400 interagency partnerships to address youth substance abuse. The DOJ provided technical support for this bill and have indicated their support for the reauthorization of this program.

“This funding was instrumental to help the four counties of Western Massachusetts implement data-driven strategies to help break the cycle of opioid addiction,” said Christopher J. Donelan, Franklin County Sheriff and Co-Chair of the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region. “The earlier we can start this, the better. Otherwise, we will continue to see more individuals incarcerated across the nation because of their drug misuse.”

“Opioid addiction not only affects individuals but their families and communities all across the United States,” said John F. Merrigan, Register of Probate and Co-Chair of the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region. “We know from our current efforts here, evidence-based strategies positively change the trajectory of young people’s lives and those who love them.”

“We want to be a part of a larger effort to provide hope and opportunity for our nation's youth and young adults,” said David E. Sullivan, Northwestern District Attorney and Co-Chair of the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region. “Federal funding is essential to allow partners to work together for good to help prevent substance misuse and provide a real chance for youth and young adults to thrive in our country.”

The legislation is cosponsored by: Brian Fitzpatrick (R), Sheila Jackson Lee (D), Don Bacon (R), Ann Kuster (D), Bill Foster (D), Katherine Clark (D), David Trone (D), Paul Tonko (D), Seth Moulton (D), Gerald E. Connolly (D), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), and Tony Cárdenas (D). 

See a 1 pager of the bill HERE. 

Read bill text HERE.