RELEASE: Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Combat Student Athlete Opioid Addiction Introduced in House. Creates Federal Youth Educational & Training Grant Program on Prevention.

Led by Gottheimer, Bacon, Davids, Gonzalez in the House. Shaheen Introducing Companion Bill in Senate. Endorsed by NCAA, NFL, MLB, NHL, and more.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, March 28, 2022, bipartisan, bicameral legislation, the Student and Student Athlete Opioid Misuse Prevention Act, is being formally introduced in the House — led by U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Don Bacon (NE-2), Sharice Davids (KS-3), and Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16). The legislation will create a federal grant program through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to invest in educational and training programs at the youth, high school, and collegiate levels on the misuse of opioids and other substances commonly used in pain management or injury recovery by students and student athletes. This legislation will help educate students and train athletic directors, youth sports coaches, school administrators, and other members of the athletic community on the signs and dangers of opioid and substance misuse, as well as strategies for prevention.

The Senate companion legislation is being led by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). 

More than 115 Americans die every single day from an opioid overdose. Research shows that students and student athletes are at risk of developing a dependency on opioids and other substances at a young age due to common pain treatment following injuries. Furthermore, according to the CDC, there was a shocking 60% increase from 2019 to 2020 in opioid overdose deaths of young people in America — ages 15 to 24. The CDC also reported a 225% increase in opioid-involved overdose deaths over the decade of 2010 to 2020.

The bipartisan, bicameral legislation will:

  • Invest in education, training, & prevention — by authorizing the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use to invest $10 million annually to support educational programs for students and student athletes, as well as training for teachers, administrators, athletic trainers, coaches, athletic directors, and others specifically targeted at strategies for preventing the misuse of opioids and other substances commonly used in pain management or injury recovery.
  • Protect our nation’s children, students, and young people — by allowing for educational programs at the youth, community, high school, and collegiate level.
  • Provide critical oversight — by requiring a report on the effectiveness of programs, periodic evaluations, as well as a plan for the dissemination of information to grantees.

The full bill text of the Student and Student Athlete Opioid Misuse Prevention Act, also known as the Student Athlete Opioid Prevention Act, can be found here.

“When it comes to the opioid epidemic ravaging America’s communities, I fight for families like those in my district who have lost loved ones to opioid addiction. As we all watch in awe of the exceptional, dedicated student athletes who compete across the nation, we're fighting to take better care of our student athletes when they aren’t competing,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “It starts with educating our educators, coaches, students, and athletic communities. Athletes tend to be exposed to opioids at a young age due to injury, which can lead to dangerous experimenting and long-term disorders. That's why I’m leading a bipartisan, bicameral effort to provide federal investment for opioid misuse education and prevention programs — to help address the problems before they start.”

“New Hampshire has been on the frontlines of the substance use disorder crisis, with opioid medications like pain killers fueling high rates of addiction. Student athletes who are prescribed opioids to treat sports injuries are particularly at risk for substance misuse. This legislation would invest in prevention programs that highlight the dangers of opioid misuse for coaches and students, helping prevent another generation from falling victim to this crisis,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).“Combating the substance use disorder epidemic has always been a top priority of mine as Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds programs to combat the problem. I’ll continue investing in resources and programs to expand treatment options, support those in recovery and finally turn the tide on this crisis.”

“Opioid abuse has become an epidemic in this nation and has negatively impacted the health and well-being of our younger generation,” said Rep. Don Bacon (NE-2). “As parents and educators, it is our responsibility to protect our children and student-athletes from harmful substances and prescriptions. I urge my colleagues to join me in the fight to protect our children and eradicate opioid use.”

“The danger of opioids in our communities, especially among young people, is a real threat. One out of every seven high school students in America report misusing prescription opioids, and student athletes often have more access to those prescriptions due to sports-related injuries. This legislation would ensure that we are directing resources towards support in those more susceptible groups, particularly for mental health and substance abuse prevention. I will always fight for the safety of our kids and our communities,” said Rep. Sharice Davids (KS-3).

“Sports offer tremendous benefits to young athletes, yet it’s no surprise to learn that their participation puts them at greater risk for injury and exposure to opioids,” said Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16). “We need to take steps that ensure student athletes recognize the risks of opioids and make smart decisions when injuries occur. This legislation does just that, and I’m pleased to support its introduction alongside my colleagues.”

Support for the bipartisan, bicameral legislation:

“I applaud the authors of this important bipartisan legislation and hope that it ends up on the President’s desk sooner rather than later,” said the Honorable Mary Bono, Chairman & CEO of Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse.

“We thank Congressman Gottheimer, Senator Shaheen, and the other lead sponsors for their leadership and support on this important issue,” said Eugene Lepore, Executive Director of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities. “We must remain vigilant in our efforts to educate students, athletics administrators, educators, coaches, and school-based medical staff on the risks associated with opioid use, prevention measures, and treatment options. This legislation, which authorizes $10 million for such programs, would make available much-needed resources to schools, community organizations, and nonprofits to continue this work. We stand ready to lend our support and believe this legislation will strengthen existing programming in New Jersey to combat the opioid crisis among students and student athletes at the youth, high school, and collegiate levels.”

“As a society that routinely cares for children with musculoskeletal injuries, we understand the importance of adequate pain control. We wholeheartedly support this bill and it’s aims to educate our community on the dangers of opioid misuse and the importance of creation of prevention strategies to mitigate the risks of use of opioids in children with musculoskeletal needs,” said a statement from Mininder S. Kocher, MD, MPH, President of the Pediatric Orthapoaedic Society of North America.

“Education is the key to empowering parents and students to avoid opioid abuse. The Student and Student Athlete Opioid Misuse Prevention Act will assist physicians, parents, and student-athletes by funding local programs to educate key communities about the dangers of opioid abuse and overdose. AMSSM applauds Representative Gottheimer for introducing this legislation,” said Amy Powell, MD, President of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM).

The bipartisan, bicameral legislation is endorsed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB) National Hockey League (NHL), American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM), Sports & Fitness Industry Association, American Physical Therapy Association, American Academy of Sports Physical Therapy, National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse, New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities, National Council of Youth Sports, National Athletic Trainers Association, USA Lacrosse, The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, National Federation of State High Schools, American Society of Addiction Medicine, and Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA).

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