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

At a hearing this week, Senator Collins hailed the peer-to-peer group Bangor Area Recovery Network as a ‘model’ for substance abuse treatment

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the Opioid Peer Support Networks Act of 2018 to address multiple aspects of the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic that is harming communities and families across the country.  This bipartisan legislation 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 succeed.

“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.”


“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 are 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 on the road to recovery, assisting with employment, education, housing, health, and overall wellbeing.


At a Senate Health Committee hearing this week on the opioid and heroin abuse epidemic, Senator Collins hailed the importance of peer-to-peer recovery groups like the Bangor Area Recovery Network (BARN) in treating those struggling with substance abuse.  BARN is a Brewer-based, volunteer-led organization founded in 2008 that provides support to individuals recovering from addiction as well as their families. 


“We strongly support Senator Collins’ efforts in introducing new bills to respond to our nation’s significant substance abuse epidemic, especially in support of peer-to-peer recovery groups.  This is a complex issue on a variety of fronts that requires significant investment in enforcement, treatment, education, and recovery,” said Jennifer Morin, Chair of BARN.  “To date, recovery has been the realm that has received the least amount of funding support and is, in our opinion, a very critical piece in ultimately reducing demand through sustained recovery allowing individuals to lead healthy lives and to become productive members of their community.”


“This bill will be a game changer for the network of recovery community organizations across the nation!  We, at Faces & Voices of Recovery, thank Senators Collins and Shaheen for believing in the power of the recovery community to be part of the solution to the addiction crisis facing our communities,” said Patty McCarthy Metcalf, Executive Director of Faces & Voices of Recovery.  “The peer-run training center will take recovery to the next level with the evidence that boots-on-the-ground peer recovery support services saves lives. We wholeheartedly support this bill and urge Congress to pass it quickly!”


Addiction Policy Forum, another national group committed to solving the opioid abuse 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 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.


The Opioid Peer Support Networks Act of 2018 is one of three bipartisan bills Senator Collins introduced this week to help reverse the heroin and opioid abuse crisis that is fueling an explosive increase in overdose deaths.


A one-pager on the can be found HERE.


The text of the bill can be found HERE.