The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) Friday in a unanimous vote of 407-5 to fight the opioid epidemic. With existing support from the Senate, the bill is expected to swiftly move from Congress to President Obama for approval.
While CARA has both passed the House and Senate, there are still some disagreements on exactly how much funding will be allocated towards treatment services. Earlier this year, President Obama proposed $1.1 billion, but many Democrats and Republicans refused to sign it due to the belief there was not enough available funding to make that possible. Due to Friday’s vote, funding is expected to be about $500 million, yet no firm number is decided.
CARA will help fund opioid and heroin prevention, treatment and recovery programs. Title III and IV of CARA explain how funds will be distributed. See these details on the bill here.
While funding is still being determined, many addiction and recovery groups are celebrating any funding since people are continuing to die daily from the opioid epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40 Americans die every day from prescription opioid overdoses.
The passage of CARA will make significant improvements for people struggling with opioid addiction, including:
- Expanding drug and alcohol prevention and education
- Increasing the availability of Narcan (Naloxone)
- Elevating more collaboration with law enforcement and criminal justice systems
- Creating more disposal and turn-in sites for unwanted prescription medications
- Increasing availability of treatment including medication-assisted and evidence-based programs
- Creating prescription drug monitoring programs to help at-risk individuals access critical services
Along with these improvements, CARA will also revise policies to enable doctors to prescribe medications that will help treat addiction and even provide more education programs for doctors to ensure that they adhere to prescriber guidelines.
Earlier this year, the CDC issued a series of guidelines that all medical professionals need to follow when prescribing opioids. These guidelines are also being incorporated into the curriculum of medical schools across the nation. CARA will help to expand on the guidelines set by the CDC.
CARA is just one of many efforts by the federal government to fight the opioid epidemic. Last week, the Obama Administration eased its cap on buprenorphine, a medication prescribed by doctors to treat opioid addiction. The measure increases the number of patients physicians can treat with the drug from 100 to 275. An implant of buprenorphine, which slowly releases low doses of drug over a six month period, has also been approved the the Food and Drug Administration.
While CARA is definitely a step in the right direction, there is still more that needs to be done to fight the opioid epidemic. State governments need to continue to create laws that will place limits on opioid prescriptions. States can also encourage doctors to offer alternative therapies wherever possible.
If you or a loved one currently have an opioid addiction, there is help. Call The Addiction Advisor helpline and learn about treatment options at 1-800-259-1361.