CounselorsEmpowerACA Government Affairs Blog

The ACA Government Affairs team strives to keep the counseling community connected with important legislative news, updates, and announcements that affect the profession. Questions? Want to get involved in our advocacy efforts? Email us at 


Dec 12, 2017

ACA Testimony at the Senate HELP Committee Hearing on Opioids

Last week the Senate HELP Committee (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions) held a hearing on the opioid crisis.  The testimony by ACA’s CEO, Richard Yep, highlighted the role counseling plays in fighting the crisis, and the advantages counselors bring to the battle.  He explained that counselors are more frequently found in rural areas than other mental health professionals, that they often use a strengths-based approach and a wellness model, and that counseling is effective both by itself and in conjunction with medication.  The testimony covered the role of Counselors who participate in a SAMHSA (the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) program known as Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) which is the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies to provide a comprehensive approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.

Mr. Yep told the Committee that, “It is well-documented that the majority of people with opioid addiction in the U.S. do not receive treatment. Put simply, it is easier to get heroin, and other opioids, than it is to get help.  Counselors provide help.” He explained that many types of counselors, not just those who specialize in addiction counseling, work with clients who are affected by the opioid crisis.  He also described some of the common treatment strategies. 

The HELP Committee oversees legislation that affects health policy, such as the 21st Century Cures Act that passed last winter and implemented new programs that address behavioral health.    The hearing was part of Congress’s ongoing effort to combat opioid addiction throughout the country.  

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  1. 2 Dr. Fred J. Hansen 12 Dec
    Thank you, Richard, for your presentation to the Committee.  I hope they do more than listen.  As a provider of both brick and mortar as well as online substance abuse treatment programs, the difficulty we find for this population is funding.  Most addicts have lost employment, family and any other form of support.  Help implies the need for money or insurance, neither of which are options for them.  In Texas, we did not opt for the Medicaid expansion so there is little hope for so many.  With our online programming we reach into the most remote regions of the state, but without funding, we cannot help near as many as we need to.  
  2. 1 Alyssa Jefferson 17 Dec
    This appears to be a very wonderful cause. I would love to learn more about it.


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