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Shaheen Statement on New DOJ Initiative to Combat Substance Use Disorder Epidemic in New England

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, today released the following statement applauding the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for unveiling the New England Prescription Opioid (NEPO) Strike Force, a new initiative to combat the unlawful prescribing and distribution of opioids and other drugs fueling the substance use disorder crisis. Specifically, this joint law enforcement initiative will improve efforts to identify and prosecute individuals involved in fraudulent health care schemes around the illegal distribution of prescribed controlled substances across New England. 

“For decades, the substance use disorder crisis has devastated families and communities in New Hampshire and across New England. I’ve heard directly from impacted families and fought to deliver federal resources to advance prevention efforts, improve access to treatment for those suffering with substance use disorders and empower law enforcement with the tools needed to crack down on illegal substances. The initiative announced by the Department of Justice today marks important federal action to stop the circulation of prescribed controlled drugs, like opioids, which have fueled rates of substance misuse,” said Shaheen. “Ensuring individuals involved in dangerous health care schemes are held accountable and face the full weight of the law is key to combating the substance use disorder crisis. I’ll continue to work with our law enforcement to deliver the tools needed to punish bad actors fueling this deadly epidemic, as well as prioritize resources and treatment to help families heal from addiction.” 

As the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies that funds DOJ, Senator Shaheen has continued to increase funding for key agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Attorneys involved in this new initiative.  In FY 2022 government funding legislation, Shaheen secured $572.5 million in DOJ grant funding 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. 

Senator Shaheen has also 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.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.