ALBANY, NY — Congressman Paul D. Tonko today cheered the awarding of $936,414 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment to the University at Albany in order to advance best practices for providing screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment to prevent and address gambling among college students. This funding, which comes from HHS’ Mental Health & Substance Abuse Service Grants program, represents the first installment of a grant that will award UAlbany more than $4.8 million over the next five years to support this research.
“I’m thrilled to celebrate this critical funding that will allow UAlbany to expand on its vital work training mental health and substance use professionals to implement screening and brief interventions to prevent substance use and gambling problems and get those in need of treatment the help they need,” Congressman Tonko said. “This funding will help ensure that young adults who are struggling with these issues have access to the timely and responsive support they need to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. As a longtime advocate for mental health and addiction treatment, I am proud to see this important work continue at UAlbany and across our Capital Region communities, and I remain committed to supporting efforts to combat the overdose epidemic and solve our nation’s youth mental health crisis.”
“This kind of translational research is critical to furthering our understanding of the way problem gambling and substance use impacts society, and college students specifically,” said Thenkurussi “Kesh” Kesavadas, Vice President for Research and Economic Development at the University at Albany. “The knowledge we gain from Drs. Cimini and Martin’s research will help inform meaningful interventions that will potentially benefit millions of college students nationwide. We are grateful to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for recognizing the value in this important work.”
Earlier this year, Congressman Tonko introduced the Betting on our Future Act, new legislation to ban all online and electronic advertising of sports gambling. These advertisements pose a particularly dangerous threat to individuals prone to addiction and to adolescents and young adults unaware of the risks involved in gambling.
Throughout his career, Tonko has led the charge on many efforts to address the crises of mental health and addiction in our communities, including through his sponsorship of the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act. This legislation, signed into law in December, eliminates outdated barriers that prevented practitioners from prescribing proven, lifesaving addiction treatments like buprenorphine. Tonko is also the author of the Reentry Act, bipartisan legislation that empowers states to restore Medicaid coverage, including for addiction and mental health treatment, to incarcerated individuals up to 30 days prior to their release. And in October, Tonko introduced the Community Mental Wellness & Resilience Act, a bipartisan bill to help communities address the extensive trauma caused by natural disasters and other toxic stresses.
Congressman Tonko also serves as co-chair of the Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus, a bipartisan group of legislators committed to advancing bipartisan solutions to the country’s multifaceted addiction crisis.