Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) takes on opioid crisis

Drug overdose is no laughing matter. In America, deaths involving prescription drugs have quadrupled since 1999, and continue to climb in record numbers.

It is estimated that as many as 1 in 4 people who are prescribed opioid medications – a class of pain relieving drugs including methadone, oxycodone (such as OxyContin) and hydrocodone (such as Vicodin) – struggle to beat an addiction to the pain medication long after their symptoms are relieved.

In July, President Obama signed a new bill into law. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) is the first major change to addiction legislation in 40 years. This effort was intended to help address the raging opioid addiction epidemic in the U.S. and reduce the number of deaths associated with the misuse of these prescriptions. CARA is a coordinated response that includes these six pillars as an approach to the widespread tragedy – prevention, treatment, recovery, law enforcement, criminal justice reform and overdose reversal.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, one of dozens of senators who came to the senate floor to praise the bill, “[The epidemic] is probably one of the most pressing public health issues facing American families across the country.”

Provisions of CARA include, but are not limited to:

  • Prevention and educational efforts aimed at teens, parents, the aging population and their caretakers to avoid prescription drug abuse.
  • Increased availability of naloxone and other overdose reversal drugs to law enforcement agencies and first responders.
  • Collaborate with criminal justice stakeholders to identify resources for incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders and treat them with evidence-based care.
  • Create a treatment and intervention demonstration program that includes medication assisted treatment.
  • Improve prescription drug monitoring programs in states where prescription drug tracking is needed to help at-risk individuals.

These points are just a short summary of what CARA aimed to do for drug reform in 2016. But is it enough?

While this act does authorize the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services to grant awards in order to address the prescription opioid abuse and heroin overdose crisis, drug reform in America is still a work in progress. Currently, in the United States more people die as a result of the growing drug crisis than in car crashes. This overwhelming statistic is significant.

President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, Dr. Jeffrey Goldsmith said, “It has been a privilege to be a part of the process as Congress has considered how best to respond to the epidemic of opioid overdoses that has been ravaging our nation, our communities and our families. It’s not a perfect bill, and we still need Congress to act to fund it this year, but it is a major step forward to help promote prevention, expand access to treatment, and enhance crucial recovery support services. With adequate funding, we believe this bill will help save lives.”


Did you know an addiction can be caused by a mental disorder?

One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.

But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.

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