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Senators Collins, Shaheen, Cornyn, Luján Introduce Bill to Expand Peer Support Services

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), along with cosponsors John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), introduced the Peer Support Services Center of Excellence Act to support individuals in recovery through proven recovery support systems. This bipartisan legislation would foster the creation of peer support networks and provide them with the resources and training they need to succeed.

“Last year in Maine, 716 people died from a drug overdose—a record number. Tragically, this was the third consecutive year that Maine set a record for fatal overdoses,” said Senator Collins. “Nationwide, nearly 110,000 Americans were lost in 2022 to overdoses. It is clear that we need to take an all-of-the-above approach to tackle this crisis. This includes support for education and prevention, treatment, law enforcement, and border security. No single focus will be enough on its own, but this bill will help individuals struggling with addiction find support through peer recovery groups.”

“New Hampshire has been hard-hit by the opioid epidemic and we must use every tool available to assist Granite Staters who are working to overcome a substance use disorder,” said Senator Shaheen. “Peer-based recovery support programs for those in need of assistance have been proven to be effective, which is why I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill that provides critical resources to help those impacted by this epidemic stay on the road to long-term recovery.” 

“The drug crisis is ravaging neighborhoods in Texas, and we need an all-of-the-above approach to support those in recovery and ensure no more lives are lost,” said Senator Cornyn. “Peer support networks foster a sense of community that can be critical for those in recovery, and this legislation would help to expand their use across the country.”

“Substance use disorder has devastated far too many New Mexicans and Americans. Congress must address this crisis and one solution is the utilization and bolstering of peer support workers who have undergone specialized training to support others on their recovery journey and have firsthand experience that gives them a unique perspective and understanding,” said Senator Luján. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing bipartisan legislation that will expand peer support technical assistance programs to assist those helping to ensure that no one going through recovery has to do it alone."

Specifically, the Peer Support Services Center of Excellence Act would:

  1. Reauthorize and modernize the National Peer-Run Training and Technical Assistance Center for Addiction Recovery Support that Senators Collins and Shaheen created in 2018.
  2. Add professional development of the peer support specialist workforce to the list of functions for the Center.
  3. Create a pilot program for a regional center of excellence that could assist the National Center and tailor its work to the needs of a particular region.

This bill would also reauthorize funding for these programs for the next five years.

In 2018, Senators Collins and Shaheen introduced the Opioid Peer Support Networks Act, much of which was enacted as part of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act that year.  This bill created the National Peer-Run Training and Technical Assistance Center for Addiction Recovery Support.  This Center provides no cost training and assistance to Recovery Community Organizations, or RCOs, and peer support networks to integrate peer support workers into non-traditional settings, build and strengthen the capacity of RCOs, enhance the professionalism of peers through workforce development, as well as provide evidence-based and practice-based tool kits and resource information to stakeholders. 

The Technical Assistance Center has enhanced the field of peer recovery support services.  Through the Center’s work, in FY 2022, nearly 2,000 individuals were trained in how to support RCOs and peer support networks, and nearly 200 individuals were trained to provide specialized technical assistance, evaluate and improve the effectiveness of services provided by RCOs, and offer translation and interpretation services, data collection support, and capacity building expertise.