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Shaheen & Rep. Gottheimer Lead Bicameral Legislation to Prevent Opioid Misuse Among Students and Student Athletes

**Shaheen’s Bill Would Authorize $10 million for Creation of Drug Prevention Programs** 

**Shaheen and Gottheimer Legislation has Received Broad Support from College and Major Professional Sports Leagues Like the NCAA, NFL, MLB and NHL** 

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reintroduced legislation that would help prevent opioid misuse among students and student athletes. The Student and Student Athlete Opioid Misuse Prevention Act would allow schools, communities and youth athletic associations in New Hampshire and around the country to provide prevention programs to reduce the risk of opioid misuse among students and student athletes. Research shows that students, and student athletes in particular, are at risk of developing a dependency due to opioid pain treatment following injuries. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) is an original cosponsor of the legislation, and U.S. Representative Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05) is leading companion legislation in the House. 

The Student and Student Athlete Opioid Misuse Prevention Act would authorize the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use to provide $10 million annually to support programs for students and student athletes, as well as training for teachers, administrators, athletic trainers, coaches and athletic directors specifically targeted at mitigating the risk of opioid misuse and overdose.  

“New Hampshire has been on the frontlines of the substance use disorder crisis, with opioid medications like pain killers fueling high rates of addiction. Student athletes who are prescribed opioids to treat sports injuries are particularly at risk for substance misuse. This legislation would invest in prevention programs that highlight the dangers of opioid misuse for coaches and students, helping prevent another generation from falling victim to this crisis,” said Senator Shaheen. “Combating the substance use disorder epidemic has always been a top priority of mine as Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds programs to combat the problem. I’ll continue investing in resources and programs to expand treatment options, support those in recovery and finally turn the tide on this crisis.” 

“When it comes to the opioid epidemic ravaging America’s communities, I fight for families like those in my district who have lost loved ones to opioid addiction. As we all watch in awe of the exceptional, dedicated student athletes who compete across the nation, we're fighting to take better care of our student athletes when they aren’t competing,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer. "It starts with educating our educators, coaches, students, and athletic communities. Athletes tend to be exposed to opioids at a young age due to injury, which can lead to dangerous experimenting and long-term disorders. That's why I’m leading a bipartisan, bicameral effort to provide federal investment for opioid misuse education and prevention programs — to help address the problems before they start."  

Studies have shown that students and student athletes are at risk for substance misuse. According to statistics provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately 396,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 reported misusing opioids in 2020. This figure nearly tripled when applied to those between the ages of 18 and 25, accounting for about 4.1 percent of young adults. According to a 2018 study in the American Journal on Addiction, nonmedical use of prescription opioids in adolescents is significantly higher among student athletes. 

The Student and Student Athlete Opioid Misuse Prevention Act is endorsed by the following organizations: National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); National Football  League (NFL); Major League Baseball (MLB); National Hockey League (NHL); USA Lacrosse; American Medical Society for Sports Medicine; The Sports & Fitness Industry Association; American Physical Therapy Association; American Academy of Sports Physical Therapy; National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association; Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America; Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse; New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities; National Council of Youth Sports; National Athletic Trainers Association; The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons; National Federation of State High Schools; and Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA). 

As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Shaheen has fought to deliver resources to combat the substance use disorder crisis in New Hampshire. For example, the FY 2021 funding legislation provided $1.5 billion in State Opioid Response (SOR) grant funding, as well as the continuation of a 15 percent set-aside that Shaheen fought to secure in 2018 for hard-hit states like New Hampshire. Shaheen also included a key provision from the 2019 version of her legislation - the Turn the Tide Act - to provide flexibility for treatment providers to use State Opioid Response (SOR) grant dollars to help patients suffering from meth and cocaine dependency, in addition to opioid use disorders. Shaheen wrote the provision in response to discussions with New Hampshire treatment providers. Over the past four years, New Hampshire has received approximately $92 million from these grants to combat the opioid epidemic in the state. In FY 2022 government funding legislation, Shaheen secured $572.5 million to help communities and first responders respond to substance use crises, including opioid addiction and drug trafficking. This also includes $415 million for Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) grants, which support programs like drug, mental health and veteran treatment courts and substance use disorder treatment programs administered by state and local correctional facilities. Last year, Senator Shaheen helped introduce the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery (CARA) Act 3.0 to help combat the opioid epidemic by increasing the funding authorization levels for these programs. Shaheen also secured funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) anti-heroin task force and anti-methamphetamine task force programs.   

Text of the bill is available here.