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Bi-Partisan Legislative Substance Abuse Treatment Working Group Announced - Tackling the Opioid & Substance Abuse Epidemic

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Today, Tuesday, June 4, 2019, a bipartisan group of legislators announced a new Legislative Substance Abuse Treatment Working Group formed to address the challenges confronting California’s addiction treatment industry.  Members include, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, Chair of the Accountability & Administrative Review Committee, Senators Patricia Bates, Jerry Hill, and Henry Stern, and Assemblymembers Richard Bloom, Tasha Boerner Horvath, William P. Brough, Tom Daly, Kevin McCarty and Marie Waldron.

“For years attempts to address substance abuse treatment have fallen flat and people are dying,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach), author of AB 919 & 920. “We must find the courage and the political will to act now so that mothers like Wendy McEntyre don’t have to bring their sons home in a body bag. The scope of this crisis is too big for just one bill. We have formed a bipartisan working group to focus on moving policies that: stop exploitation in the recovery industry; establish standards for treatment programs and providers; and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being directed to proven programs that work.”

“I am here today to give a voice to victims and survivors as we challenge this billion dollar substance abuse treatment industry that places profit over people,” said Wendy McEntyre, Founder of JarrodsLaw.Org, a watchdog 501(c)(3) nonprofit created in 2005 after the loss of her son, Jarrod Autterson. “I cannot keep coming to the state with this list of dead boys.”

“Californians struggling with substance abuse deserve support and evidence-based treatment— not exploitation,” said Senator Henry Stern (D-Calabasas), co-author of AB 920. “I’m proud to join my colleagues as we crack down on the predatory industry actors who take advantage of our loved ones and put our neighborhoods at risk in the interest of profit.”

“I am delighted to be a part of this important, bipartisan working group on substance abuse treatment legislation,” said Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. “It is critical for us to ensure that the treatment available to individuals who are working to recover from substance dependencies meet evidence-based standards and are part of programs that are appropriately licensed by our state. No one should fall victim to fraudulent or non-evidenced-based programs that fleece patients under the guise of helping them conquer their dependencies.”

Senator Hill is the author of SB 325, which requires outpatient alcohol and drug recovery programs to be licensed and to meet evidence-based treatment standards. The bill also prohibits licensed providers from engaging in patient selling and recruiting for monetary gain. The bill builds on Senator Hill’s 2018 legislation, SB 823, which requires residential drug and alcohol recovery and treatment programs to meet evidence-based standards.

“As a former social worker who has worked with people with difficult personal challenges, I am pleased to participate in this working group to address issues in the sober living industry,” said Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel). “Working together, I hope we can advance solutions that protect patients seeking treatment and the public safety of affected communities. One solution that I hope we can enact this year is my SB 589 that will end deceptive marketing in the rehab industry.”

Senator Bates is the author of SB 589, which prohibits specified entities in the alcohol and other drug abuse recovery and treatment services industry from making false or misleading statements and from engaging in conduct involving the unlawful giving or receiving of remuneration or anything of value for referring a person to recovery or treatment services, as specified.

"There are few issues that impact all parts of our state the way substance abuse does,” said Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron (R-Escondido).  "Treatment must be accessible, addressing the whole person - including counseling, family therapy, treatment adherence, education and job skills, crisis intervention, recovery monitoring, etc. Through this working group, we will come together to craft smart, bipartisan solutions to one of the most important public health threats facing our state.”

“As the author of legislation establishing California’s first-ever standards for unlicensed and unregulated recovery residences, I salute Assemblymember Petrie-Norris for establishing this working group,” said Assemblymember Tom Daly (D-Anaheim).  “By adopting basic standards for recovery residences, we can begin to draw a clear line between those bad actor operators and the responsibly-run sober homes that are safe for both residents and communities alike.”

“Thank you Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris for launching the Bi-Partisan Legislative Substance Abuse Treatment Working Group,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). “The aggressive promotion of opioids by manufacturers and wholesalers has undoubtedly contributed to the current epidemic. We need to hold Pharma companies accountable and demand they help fund prevention and rehabilitation for addicts who got hooked on their prescription painkillers.”

“A lack of oversight and transparency when it comes to drug treatment and recovery in facilities commonly referred to as sober living homes has made the system ripe for abuse and put patients, and our local communities, at risk,” said Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath (D- Encinitas). “With California now directing people into drug treatment as an alternative to prison, we have a moral obligation to ensure those facilities are safe and operate collaboratively with the communities hosting them.  That’s why I am proud to be a part of this working group and the policy initiatives we are advancing.”

"I am pleased to join my colleagues in convening a substance abuse treatment working group,” Assemblyman Bill Brough (R-Dana Point).  “Substance abuse is a growing and urgent crisis in Orange County, and I look forward to working on solutions to stop the bad actors that prey on a vulnerable population, provide greater safety for those Californians seeking sobriety and relief for the residents of the neighborhoods where they reside.” 

According to the California Department of Public Health, across California, opioid-related overdoses claimed 2,196 lives in 2017. With opioid overdoses now a top 5 cause of death in the United States, this working group is being formed to improve patient protection and oversight in the substance abuse treatment industry, and to ensure taxpayer dollars are directed to programs that work.

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