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Shaheen Reintroduces Legislation to Prevent Opioid Misuse Among Students and Student Athletes

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

**The Student and Athlete Opioid Misuse Prevention Act is Endorsed by the National Football League Players Association** 

(Washington, DC) – This week, 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. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) are cosponsors of the legislation. 

“Much of the substance use disorder epidemic took root in our communities through opioid medication, which remains a threat to students and in particular student athletes. We need to make sure there are programs in place to prevent another generation from falling victim to this crisis, which is why this legislation is so necessary,” said Senator Shaheen. “We need to make sure we’re investing in prevention programs to reduce the risk of opioid misuse among all students. This should be a comprehensive approach to confront the full scope of this crisis and this legislation can play an important role in that effort.” 

“Far too often, high school athletes become addicted to opioids after being prescribed pain killers for an injury, which is why Congress must act to help educate coaches, teachers, and students about the dangers of opioid misuse,” said Senator Hassan. “This commonsense legislation would help prevent the next generation from misusing opioids and aid in our efforts to stem – and ultimately reverse – the tide of this devastating epidemic.” 

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. 

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 769,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 reported misusing opioids in 2017. This figure more than tripled when applied to those between the ages of 18 and 25, accounting for about 7.3 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. 

Senator Shaheen has prioritized efforts in Congress to combat the substance use disorder epidemic. Senator Shaheen helped negotiate a bipartisan agreement in 2018 that resulted in a large national increase in opioid treatment funding through the State Opioid Response (SOR) grant program over two years. Shaheen helped negotiate a 15 percent set-aside of federal funding for hardest hit states, which has helped states deeply impacted like New Hampshire. These combined efforts led to a 1000% increase in federal treatment and prevention funding for New Hampshire. In July, Senator Shaheen spearheaded new legislation—the Turn the Tide Act—to increase the availability of substance use disorder treatment. A key component of her legislation to allow treatment providers to use SOR grants to treat help patients suffering from methamphetamine and cocaine dependency, in addition to opioid use disorder, was included in funding legislation signed into law in December. 

The Student and Student Athlete Opioid Misuse Prevention Act is endorsed by the National Football League Players Association. Text of the bill is available here.