2017 Summer Congressional Briefings Highlight Substance Abuse Research

Capitol Hill events focus on women’s drinking and preventing opioid use disorders

This summer, the American Psychological Association’s Science Government Relations Office organized two congressional briefings related to issues of substance abuse. Both briefings made the findings of NIH funded substance abuse research accessible to Congress and the broader policy and research communities.  Each was hosted by a coalition in which APA is an active member: one by the Friends of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the other by the Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

On June 22, 2017, the Friends of NIAAA coalition held a briefing entitled "The Changing Patterns of Women’s Drinking and Their Impact on Public Health" in cooperation with the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus. The Director of NIAAA, George Koob, PhD provided a broad overview of NIAAA's research portfolio on the characteristics and patterns of alcohol use in women.

From left to right: George F. Koob, PhD, Deidra Roach, MD, Barbara McCrady, PhD, Martha Woodroof, and Carlo DiClemente, PhD. 

From left to right: George F. Koob, PhD, Deidra Roach, MD, Barbara McCrady, PhD, Martha Woodroof, and Carlo DiClemente, PhD. 

Deidra Roach, MD, a Medical Project Officer in the Division of Treatment and Recovery Research at NIAAA, discussed why we are seeing a rise in binge drinking among women around the world, as well as presented data on the medical consequences of excessive alcohol use in women and on alcohol use during pregnancy. Next, Barbara McCrady, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions at the University of New Mexico, discussed the barriers women face when seeking treatment and the unique needs of women in treatment programs. Finally, writer and public radio host, Martha Woodroof, told stories of her life and her 26-year recovery from alcohol use disorder. Over 60 people attended the event and the briefing stimulated many excellent questions and answers moderated by Friends of NIAAA Chair, Carlo DiClemente, Ph.D.

 On July 25, 2017, the Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse coalition held a briefing entitled “Preventing Opioid Use Disorders: Community Based Approaches that Work” in cooperation with the Congressional Addiction Treatment and Recovery Caucus, the Prescription Drug Abuse Caucus and the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force. The Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Wilson Compton, M.D., M.P.E., discussed how social environment shapes the development of the brain and how adverse childhood experiences increase the likelihood of illicit drug use later in life. He presented evidence that early childhood intervention can prevent opiate misuse later in life, and provided examples of prevention programs that have been effective.

From left to right: Wilson Compton, MD, MPE, Kathy Collier, Richard F. Catalano, PhD, and Richard Spoth, PhD.

From left to right: Wilson Compton, MD, MPE, Kathy Collier, Richard F. Catalano, PhD, and Richard Spoth, PhD.

Richard F. Catalano, Ph.D., professor at the University of Washington and the co-founder of the Social Development Research Group, presented federal spending data from the Office of National Drug Control Policy to illustrate that federal funding for prevention programs has remained low compared to spending on law enforcement and treatment.  He also shared recommendations for scaling effective prevention programs and policies. Senior Prevention Scientist and the Director of the Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute at Iowa State University, Richard Spoth, Ph.D., demonstrated the value of expanding evidence-based prevention programs. He provided an analysis of the reduction in both economic and societal costs that occur when effective prevention programs are implemented. Kathy Collier is a Prevention Program Director and the Chair of the Pennsylvania Coalition Advisory Workgroup. She presented on the efforts and success of the Chester County Department of Drug and Alcohol Services. Her experience working on the ground in communities enabled her to offer a unique perspective on prevention approaches. Nearly 120 congressional and federal agency staff, professional society representatives and others attended the session, underscoring the keen public interest in preventing opioid use disorders and combating the opioid epidemic

For more information about these events and APA’s science advocacy, please contact Geoff Mumford, PhD, Associate Executive Director for Government Relations in the APA Science Directorate.

Fiscal Year 2018 Budget and Appropriations Making Progress in Congress

Is Congress going along with proposed science budget cuts?

The House Appropriations Committee has acted on all 12 federal appropriations bills, working at a fairly impressive pace in a Congress with few legislative accomplishments so far this year. A “minibus”—a package of four of the less controversial funding bills—was recently approved by the House. H.R. 3219 includes the Defense, Energy-Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bills.

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After the March: Taking the next steps to advocate for science

Get ready to make an appointment with your local congressional office

As an official partner of the March for Science, APA encouraged members to join the march in D.C. or in satellite cities worldwide.  While science did certainly get a boost from the excitement and energy of April 22, the march could only ever be the first half mile in a marathon. Building a relationship with your members of Congress, making sure they know how important peer review is, or funding for the National Science Foundation, THAT’S how real and longer lasting benefits can accrue for the U.S.’s science enterprise.

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Congress approves federal spending bill for remainder of Fiscal Year 2017

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Why we March: APA joins scientists across the globe

The American Psychological Association (APA) is proud to be an official partner of the March for Science. On April 22, 2017, we gather together with our fellow scientists and supporters to celebrate scientific research and to speak up for evidence-based policy making. We join together through our shared passion for scientific discovery and our eagerness to communicate these discoveries broadly.

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Trump budget delivers a seismic shock to science

How bad is it – and how likely are the proposed cuts to be enacted?

Although the American Psychological Association (APA) and our sister scientific associations had expected budget cuts, it was a shock to see the “skinny budget” proposal in black and white: the National Institutes of Health (NIH), strongly supported by members of Congress from both parties and only months ago the recipient of extra money via the 21st Century Cures bill, cut by 18% or nearly $6 billion in one fiscal year.

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