Joyce Introduces Bipartisan Drug-Free Communities Pandemic Relief Act to Address Ongoing Opioid Crisis

Feb 02, 2021
Opioid Crisis
Press

WASHINGTON, DC – This week, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) introduced H.R. 654, the Drug-Free Communities Pandemic Relief Act, alongside Rep. Derek Kilmer (WA-06). This bipartisan legislation would provide flexibility to Drug-Free Communities (DFC) coalitions during the COVID-19 pandemic by temporarily allowing the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) the authority to waive the program’s local matching requirements if the grantee is unable to meet them due to the ongoing pandemic. 

“While we continue to administer COVID-19 vaccinations and rein in the pandemic, we cannot turn a blind eye to the ongoing opioid crisis,” said Joyce. “Addiction and substance use disorder are unfortunate challenges for so many families across Ohio. Thankfully, the Drug-Free Communities program has helped us combat the opioid crisis at the local level and has made a difference in the lives of countless young Ohioans. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to give this program the flexibility it needs to continue its life-saving work during these difficult times. I urge the House to act quickly on this bill so that we can ensure youth addiction prevention programs have the resources to conduct effective outreach in our communities during the ongoing pandemic.”

“Across our region, we’ve seen local efforts funded through the Drug-Free Communities Program that have played a critical role in preventing and reducing youth substance use,” said Rep. Kilmer. “However, these efforts have faced unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why I’m supporting this bipartisan plan to help make sure that these community-based programs have the resources they need – today and in the future – to help our kids succeed.”   

The DFC program, which was created by legislation authored by then-U.S. Rep. Rob Portman in 1997, is a proven, evidence-based, and community-oriented program that reduces substance abuse among young Americans. No other drug prevention program has achieved the same reduction in youth drug use that the DFC program has consistently achieved.

In 2018, the U.S. saw its first decline in drug overdose deaths in nearly 30 years. But that progress is quickly being erased. In 2019, fatal drug overdoses hit a record high, accounting for the deaths of 70,980 Americans. Recent data from the CDC shows that more than half of those deaths involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl. This trend is ongoing this year as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the mental health and economic security of Americans across the country. To learn more about how Joyce has urged Congressional action to combat the recent rise in fatal drug overdoses, click here.

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