Advocating in Washington for Addiction Treatment

John SniffenAdvocacy, La Hacienda

Layton and Hutts with TAAP group meeting with US Senator John Cornyn

Photo: David Hutts, far left, and Sherri Layton, fifth from left and next to U.S. Senator John Cornyn, recently met with the senator and his staff.

Two La Hacienda staffers were a part of a Texas Association of Addiction Professionals (TAAP) group that met with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in Washington, D.C.

Outpatient Services Administrator Sherri Layton and Business Development Specialist David Hutts were with Texas addiction professionals who spoke with the state’s senior senator then posed for a photo. David is also president of TAAP’s Austin chapter.

As chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, Senator Cornyn is focused on interdiction, working with other countries to stop the flow of drugs into the U.S.

At the same time, he recognizes there is also a need to decrease demand in this country, said Sherri. “He was very positive about treatment professionals’ work in providing addiction services.”

Staff are Important Link

With most legislator,s effective advocacy work involves staff members who do research and advise the lawmakers.

Before the trip, Cornyn’s healthcare policy advisor had requested information on addiction prevention in schools.

“We were able to provide information on evidence-based prevention programs that have shown to be effective.”

For example, they provided information about a school-based prevention program. According to a survey for Region 8 which includes San Antonio, the average age of first alcohol use has risen from 11-1/2 years-old in 2015 to 13 years-old in 2018.

That’s a good sign, but more needs to be done, she added. “We need prevention programming in all Texas schools.”

Concerns about Marijuana Legalization

They also talked with the senator’s aide about the proposed STATES Act regarding federal legalization of marijuana. “We were able to address some of the concerns and problems that treatment providers see regarding marijuana use.”

The bill was introduced in June 2018 and referred to the Judiciary Committee, according to Congress’ online tracking system.

While in DC with the TAAP group, Sherri and David also met with staff members working for Texas’s other U.S. Senator, Ted Cruz, and for U. S. Representative Chip Roy, the recently elected Congressman for the state’s 21st District which includes Kerr County.

The TAAP members were in Washington for the annual NAADAC Advocacy in Action Conference on April 10-11. Sherri was one of the event’s featured speakers.