Congress Passes CARA Bill to Fight Opioid Addiction

With final approval from the Senate, Congress has passed a bill to address the opioid addiction epidemic that has taken over the country. The bill, named the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), is set to be signed by President Obama in the coming days. In the process, many legislators have fought over the funding that will be available to help improve upon addiction treatment and drug abuse prevention programs.

The opioid addiction problem in this country has grown to epidemic proportions over the last few years, and there have been a number of legislative proposals brought forth in an attempt to deal with the problem. More than anything, the issue of addiction treatment has become imperative – how to provide it, how to fund it, and how to make sure everyone who needs it is receiving it. While this may seem like an impossible task, the CARA bill is at least a step in the right direction. Both sides of the isle can agree that addiction is a devastating disease that is claiming the lives of millions every year in the Unites States, and that something must be done.

Although both parties agreed to pass this bill, many, especially Democrats, have been critical of its funding. As of right now, the bill has no plan in place to pay for itself, which raises concerns about how effective it will actually be.

How the CARA Bill Addresses the Issue of Opioid Addiction

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2014 alone, more people died due to a drug overdose in this country than in any previous year recorded. It also reported that deaths linked to prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999. An even more staggering statistic is that 78 people die each day from an opioid overdose.

In an attempt to address the opioid addiction problem, the CARA bill focuses on enhancing and increasing the capacity for medical and mental health care. $181 million would be funneled into opioid abuse prevention and treatment programs. It also gives providers better access to the drug Narcan, also known as naxolone, which helps to stop or reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

The CARA legislation outlines some the following changes in regards to treatment, research prevention, and legislative enforcement:

  • Making narcan (naxolone) available on a wider scale, while also providing education to doctors, pharmacists, and first responders on how to use it .
  • It promises to not only expand current prevention and treatment programs, but also create new ones where needed. These programs will serve to treat opioid addiction in pregnant women, veterans and prisoners.
  • Under CARA, pharmacists will now be allowed to only partially fill prescriptions for opioid drugs. The idea behind this is that it will help reduce the amount of unused pills, which can easily end up in the wrong hands.
  • Veterans Affairs facilities will see a opioid prescription policy reform, ensuring strict guidelines are in place to prevent abuse and addiction.
  • A new study will be launched, which seeks to improve medical care for newborns who are born with an opioid addiction.
  • Financial grants will be awarded to local and state governments to investigate illegal opioid trafficking.
  • It will also seek to enforce and strengthen state programs for prescription drug monitoring.

Sources: 

Erica Loret de Mola

Gettreatment.com

Erica Loret de Mola is a communications major who has been writing about addiction treatment for approximately three years. As content manager and editor in chief of Get Treatment, she strives to provide the most accurate and current information available to our clients.

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