Advocacy Update

APA's efforts to advocate for substance abuse patients and research

Topics include briefing of members of Congress on adolescent substance use, growing cooperation between APA and SAMHSA, the state of scientific research funding and e-cigarette regulation under the Tobacco Control Act.

By Mikhail Koffarnus, PhD

Members of Congress Briefed on Substance Use in Adolescents

APA, as one of 30 sponsoring organizations, organized and presented a briefing to Congress to highlight the effects of substance use on brain development in adolescents and to advocate for more research funding in this area. The briefing focused on the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study to follow 10,000 adolescents over 10 years. Speakers included National Institute on Drug Abuse director Nora Volkow, MD; National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism director George Koob, PhD; and director of the National Consortium on Alcohol and Neurodevelopment in Adolescence Sandra Brown, PhD.

Growing Cooperation between APA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

After highlighting their support for the strategic plan of SAMHSA, APA has continued to foster a close relationship with the organization. In both a written letter (PDF, 162KB) an in meetings between SAMHSA officials and APA Chief Executive Officer Norman B. Anderson, PhD, APA has advocated for the full implementation of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which requires health insurers to cover mental health and addiction treatment services at the same level as other chronic health conditions such as diabetes. The letter goes on to express support for the six strategic initiatives of SAMHSA and indicate how specific actions in line with these initiatives could advance the goals of both SAMHSA and APA.

Commentary on the State of Scientific Research Funding in Congress

In an article in Roll Call titled “Memo to Congress: Stop Fighting Scientific Research,” APA senior science policy analyst Patricia K. Kobor and deputy director of the Consortium of Social Science Associations Angela L. Sharpe urged Congress to recognize the value of behavioral science research. They point out that more than 50 percent of the nation's preventable injuries, illnesses and deaths can be attributed to the behavior of its citizenry, and that behavioral research is therefore critical to improving our collective health.

E-cigarette Regulation under the Tobacco Control Act

APA joined 31 organizations in writing a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent e-cigarette manufacturers from avoiding FDA review. The letter authors resist a push by some members of congress and tobacco manufacturers to change the “grandfather date” that exempts some tobacco products from review under the Tobacco Control Act. By keeping the current date, new e-cigarette products will be subject to premarket review, potentially preventing harmful products from making it to market.