Crime, Justice, Terrorism, & Substance Abuse
Legislative Chair: Representative Phyllis Katsakiores (NH)
OVERVIEW: Through this Committee, NFWL has recently launched an Addiction Treatment Initiative to address a growing public health and safety crisis in America, addressing opiod dependence and the prevention of youth tobacco use. Improving teen dating violence education and expanding NFWL's Disaster Relief and Preparedness Task Force are also key priorities.
Addiction in America--A Public Health AND Safety Crisis
While substance dependence may not look like a disease to many people, addiction is considered to be a serious, chronic medical condition that can be diagnosed and treated, just like any other disease. With an estimated 1.5 million adults dependent on pain relievers or heroin, the nation is facing a serious public health and safety crisis.
Prescription drug abuse, particularly in the opioid class, is a significant societal problem. Deaths from prescription painkillers have reached epidemic levels in the past decade and the number of overdose deaths is now greater than those of deaths from heroin and cocaine combined. While the benefits of opioids in treating and managing pain are widely recognized, the potential for misuse and abuse of these products has long been a concern of manufacturers, state and federal law enforcement, healthcare providers, legislators and regulators.
This Committee is evaluating evidence-based solutions to addiction treatment and recovery in America, including the implementation of evidence-based non-narcotic treatment protocols and measures that call for tamper-resistant formulations of opioid medications. Understanding that a good recovery foundation reduces repeat treatments, successful models of treatment to addiction recovery are also being considered, such as advancements in technology and using the internet and other modern communications tools.
Bridging the Divide in Behavioral Health
Forging the right partnerships and thinking outside of the box will revolutionize the world of addiction treatment and recovery. Prisons across the nation are filled with repeat offenders who haven't found a way to kick their habits, and veterans facilities are stacked with heroes who self-medicate to alleviate their physical and emotional pain. This Committee is working to identify proven and effective solutions that work.
This Committee has been working with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Loyola Recovery Foundation, WestCare Foundation, and many other organizations who have implemented successful models, providing a pathway to hope in reducing recidivism as well as targeting specific populations that often go unnoticed, such as our wounded warriors.
Using 21st Century Tools to Prevent Youth Tobacco Use
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each day in the United States approximately 3,800 young people under 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette, and an estimated 1,000 youth in that age group become daily cigarette smokers. Smoking and smokeless tobacco use are initiated and established primarily during adolescence. New "futuristic" tobacco-derived products are entering the market both online and at retail outlets. Updated state laws are urgently needed to prevent minors from purchasing or possessing these new adult tobacco-derived products.
This Committee is working in conjunction with NFWL's Education & Training Policy Committee to reduce youth tobacco use and access. Elected women are currently exploring and supporting educational efforts that play a meaningful role in accelerating the decline in youth tobacco use, such as the "Right Decisions Right Now: Be Tobacco Free," an evidence-based youth tobacco prevention program.
Preventing Teen Dating Violence (TDV) through Education
NFWL partnered with Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc.'s (formerly known as Liz Claiborne) Love Is Not Abuse Coalition to join the elected women who serve on this NFWL Policy Committee with parent and student advocates in their respective states so that they can work together to find ways to incorporate teen dating violence education into health curriculums for middle and high school students.
Teen dating violence is at epidemic proportions, resulting in thousands of preventable deaths. All children deserve a chance to grow and prosper and to be empowered with the information they need to make good choices. This is not domestic violence, bullying, or cyber-stalking - teen dating violence is its own epidemic, and it is preventable through education and awareness.
According to a survey conducted by Liz Claiborne Inc., nearly 1 in 3 teens (29%) report actual sexual abuse, physical abuse, or threats of physical abuse and 1 in 4 teens (24%) have been victimized through technology. 1 in 2 teens (47%) report that they have been personally victimized by controlling behaviors from a boyfriend or girlfriend. Just as startling, 80% of teens report knowing someone who has been a victim of controlling behaviors from a boyfriend or girlfriend
This silent threat has been spreading through every community leading to murder and suicide. Teens do not know how to recognize the signs of an abusive partner or that they can be easily controlled by a partner through constant text messaging. What is worse is that parents are not even aware of the signs and what they should be looking for in these adolescent relationships.
This Committee is working in conjunction with NFWL's Education & Training Policy Committee to combat this public health and safety crisis.
Disaster Relief and Preparedness Task Force
NFWL has a history of supporting disaster relief and preparedness initiatives and promoting public-private partnerships to allow for the most expedient response in meeting the needs of all Americans. Elected women have played integral roles in responding to natural disasters like Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, Irene, and Sandy, the tornadoes that have ripped through the south and the floods that took hold of communities in the Midwest, as well as terrorist-related attacks such as the Oklahoma City bombing and the devastating events on 9/11. NFWL's Disaster Relief and Preparedness Initiative has been stimulated by the continuing pressure placed on first responders to handle an ever-expanding number of concerned Americans during natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and other emergencies.
NFWL has been working to identify and implement effective solutions that will improve disaster preparedness and awareness across the nation, ultimately creating a culture of preparedness.