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Shaheen Introduces Bipartisan Drug-Free Communities Pandemic Relief Act to Combat Ongoing Drug Crisis

**Legislation Will Provide Flexibility to Drug-Free Communities Coalitions During COVID-19 Pandemic**

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the bipartisan Drug-Free Communities Pandemic Relief Act, legislation to provide flexibility to Drug-Free Communities (DFC) coalitions during the COVID-19 pandemic by temporarily allowing the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) the authority to waive the program’s local matching requirements if the grantee is unable to meet them due to the ongoing pandemic. Shaheen introduced the legislation with U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

The DFC Program is administered by ONDCP with program support from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). DFC coalitions have led innovative opioid prevention initiatives and have demonstrated significant declines in prevalence of prescription drug misuse amongst participants. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the impact of the substance use disorder epidemic, making it more critical than ever to ensure coalitions can weather this crisis and continue to educate and empower young people on the risks of substance abuse.

“Turning the tide on the substance use disorder epidemic requires a comprehensive approach that includes robust support for youth prevention efforts,” said Shaheen. “The Drug-Free Communities program plays a crucial role in this effort by investing in frontline organizations that do tremendous work in New Hampshire and across the country to stop another generation from succumbing to this deadly epidemic. With the COVID-19 pandemic making it harder for those struggling with substance use disorder to get the care they need, ensuring these coalitions are able to continue to operate in our communities has never been more important. We have a new session of Congress with ample opportunity to make progress on bipartisan priorities and this should be at the top of the list. I’m glad to partner with Senators Portman, Capito and Whitehouse on this important bill and will keep working across the aisle to push it forward.”

The bill is supported by: Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse (MAPDA), NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD), and National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives (NPSC).

Senator Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Justice which oversees numerous programs to combat substance use disorder, has consistently advocated for the DFC program. Shaheen has led efforts in the Senate to respond to the opioid crisis. Shaheen has hosted DFC roundtable discussions with local students, school administrators, community leaders and youth advocates in Woodsville as well as Milford, where she joined the New Hampshire congressional delegation and former ONDCP Director Jim Carroll

Senator Shaheen has led efforts in the Senate to combat the substance use disorder. In the final fiscal year (FY) 2021 government funding legislation that was signed into law, Senator Shaheen successfully advocated for $102 million for the DFC Program. Shaheen also worked to include $541.5 million for the Department of Justice anti-opioid and substance abuse grant programs. As a result of Shaheen’s leadership during negotiations for the emergency COVID relief signed into law last month, $4.25 billion in funding for substance use disorder treatment and mental health care was included in the final legislation. Last month, Shaheen introduced the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 2.0, bipartisan legislation that would increase the funding authorization levels for the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) programs enacted in 2016 and put in place additional policy reforms to help combat the opioid epidemic that has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. 

As the Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds major anti-opioid programs, Shaheen helped secure the additional $3.3 billion to combat the substance use disorder crisis, including the $142 million set-aside for hardest-hit states FY2018 omnibus government funding bill. As a result of the New Hampshire congressional delegation’s efforts, New Hampshire received a more than ten-fold increase in opioid treatment funding through the State Opioid Response (SOR) grant program. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact New Hampshire, the congressional delegation has repeatedly called for additional funding for substance use disorder services in a COVID-19 relief package.