U.S. Representative Barbara Cubin (R-WY) renewed her commitment to fighting Wyoming's methamphetamine epidemic yesterday, pushing legislation supporting family-based methamphetamine treatment through the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
"I have always said that we need a multi-pronged approach to battling meth," said Cubin. "Two years ago, Congress took a necessary first step in passing the nation's first comprehensive meth enforcement law, but we need treatment to supplement our enforcement efforts. The bill I have ushered through the committee will make funding for family-based treatment available to rural areas hardest hit by meth."
Cubin joined Representative Darlene Hooley (D-OR) in introducing the Meth Free Families and Communities Act (H.R. 6901), which would support local programs providing counseling, medical treatment, parenting training, education and legal services to mothers recovering from meth and their children. Cubin originally authored these provisions as part of legislation she has introduced in the 109th and 110th Congresses, the Family-Based Meth Treatment Access Act.
"Wyoming communities have stood shoulder to shoulder in fighting the meth scourge head on, and I am committed to doing the same at the federal level," Cubin stated. "The family-treatment approach supported by my bill has been proven to yield results in terms of parental sobriety, child well-being, family stability, and lower recidivism rates. Moreover, it saves money in the long run that would otherwise be spent in our criminal justice system or on foster care for meth-affected children."
By focusing on families, Cubin's legislation addresses a critical aspect of the battle to eradicate meth use. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), at least 70% of the child welfare cases across the states - including social services, family courts, foster care and adoption agencies - involve a substance abusing parent. A CASA study showed that Wyoming's child welfare costs as a result of substance abusing parents who come to the attention of state child welfare agencies totaled $7.1 million per year.
H.R. 6901 also codifies meth awareness efforts already underway by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The legislation supports the development of an information clearinghouse for employers and employees about drug testing policies and programs. Additionally, the bill authorizes the agency to pursue a professionally-mentored Student-Driven Methamphetamine Awareness Project.
"Shockingly, a survey conducted by the Wyoming Meth Project tells us that half of the young adults in our state believe there are significant benefits to meth use," said Cubin, who serves on the House Meth Caucus, a coalition of Members dedicated to eradicating the effects of methamphetamine. "It's this misperception that leads young people into the nightmare of meth, which has too many times torn families apart. My legislation will give Wyoming citizens more tools to both raise awareness and treat those that end up addicted to this insidious drug."
H.R. 6901 was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee by a voice vote. It now awaits consideration on the floor of the whole House of Representatives.