Skip to content

Shaheen, Collins Introduce Bill to Authorize $25 Million to Support Peer Networks Responding to Opioid Epidemic


Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Opioid Peer Support Networks Act of 2018 to address multiple aspects of the opioid epidemic, which has taken a devastating toll on New Hampshire communities. New Hampshire currently has the third highest drug overdose death rate in the nation. The bipartisan bill would foster the creation of peer support networks, also known as communities in recovery, and provide them with the resources and training they need to help combat the opioid crisis.

“The understanding and motivation that peer-based recovery support programs provide for those in need of assistance have been proven to be effective,” said Senator Shaheen. “This bipartisan bill provides additional resources for these programs and will help Congress build on the progress we’ve already made to direct funding to address the opioid epidemic. The Granite State has the third highest drug overdose death rate in the nation – we must use every tool available to save lives and end this scourge.”

“Peer support networks engage individuals who are in recovery with other peers facing substance use disorders, helping to provide long-term support,” said Senator Collins. “The Opioid Peer Support Networks Act would bring critical training and assistance to these on-the-ground peer-to-peer networks and help build up these important recovery support systems.”

John Burns, Director of the SOS Recovery Community Organization, offered support for the bill, commenting, “We are grateful for Senator Shaheen’s support and responsiveness to the value of peer driven recovery supports. This bill will be a critical support for peer recovery services being funded and recognized as a critical part of the continuum with prevention, treatment and recovery, and essential to help resolve the addiction crisis in this country.”

Peer support networks under the bill are defined as a group of two or more independent nonprofit organizations that provide long-term, non-clinical recovery support for substance use disorders.  Within these networks, individuals and families battling addiction help one another stay firm on the road to recovery, assisting with employment, education, housing, health, and overall wellbeing.

Addiction Policy Forum, another national group committed to solving the opioid epidemic, also gave their support for the Senators’ bipartisan bill.

The Opioid Peer Support Networks Act of 2018 would:

  • Build connections to behavioral health providers, primary care providers and physicians, employers, housing services, educational and vocational schools, the criminal justice system, child welfare agencies, and other recovery support services that facilitate recovery from substance use disorders;
  • Conduct outreach to help families and communities, support individuals struggling with addiction, reduce the stigma associated with substance use disorders, and support long-term recovery; and
  • Establish a National Peer Run Training and Technical Assistance Center for Addiction Recovery Support, through a SAMHSA grant. This Center would provide the Peer Support Networks with training, technical assistance, evaluation, research, translation, and capacity-building products, as well as annual guidance on best practices.

Grants would be awarded for up to three years, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services would be required to take into consideration the relative proportion of awards among rural and urban areas, with at least 50 percent of grants provided to rural areas. The bill would authorize $25,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2019 through 2022.

Senator Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the lead Democrat of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee, has led efforts in Congress to respond to the opioid crisis. As a result of her advocacy on the bipartisan Common Sense Caucus and her engagement during the writing of the funding bill that was recently signed into law, Senator Shaheen helped secure $3.3 billion in additional resources. This funding will go towards a number of key programs through the Department of Health and Human Services for treatment and prevention, the Department of Justice for law enforcement and grant resources, and other federal agencies to help communities impacted by the opioid epidemic. Senator Shaheen has also introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Hassan (D-NH) that would change how federal agencies determine State Targeted Response Opioid Crisis Grant funding to prioritize states with the highest mortality rates in the nation from opioid overdoses. 

A one-pager on the bill can be found HERE.

The text of the bill can be found HERE.