The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) was passed by the Senate today in an overwhelming 94-1 vote, amid much debate and speculation. The bill emerged victorious with few changes and attached amendments. Although criticized for not including immediate funding, the bill has largely been appreciated on all other accounts.
Many are hopeful that CARA will pass due to the impressive support it garnered from both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate. The bill is projected to see a harder battle in the House. However, if it should progress to the White House, the President is expected to sign it.
Editor’s Note: As of Feb, 16, 2016:
Based on a unanimous vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the $77.9 million Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) proceeded forward. After almost a year since being introduced in the Senate by Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) and representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) in the House, the bill was approved to move to the Senate floor last week on Feb. 11.
“This legislation will give the teachers, law enforcement officers, healthcare providers, family members and all those on the front lines of this battle the tools they need to fight back. I’m deeply grateful to everyone in the recovery community who has helped us write this legislation, and I’m pleased to see it advance to the Senate floor,” said Whitehouse in a statement.
What is CARA?
CARA lays out a comprehensive, coordinated and reasonable strategy through improved grant programs that would promote the expansion of prevention and education efforts alongside treatment and recovery. The bill authorizes about $80 million in new programs for prevention, treatment, recovery and criminal justice reform.
A quick look
Briefly, the provisions of CARA render the following highlights:
Expand prevention and educational efforts, especially designed for teens, parents and senior population, to prevent abuse of opioids and heroin
Widen the accessibility of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and first-responders to help reverse overdoses in order to save lives
Enhance resources for the identification and treatment of incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders
Increase disposal sites for redundant prescription medications to limit approach of children and adolescents
Initiate an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program to promote the best practices throughout the nation
Launch a medication-assisted treatment and intervention demonstration program
Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help monitor and track prescription drug diversion and increase the accessibility of at-risk individuals to services
Why is CARA so important?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 120 people die every day from drug overdoses. This is an epidemic that has left no state, no neighborhood and no congressional district untouched. Today, every citizen faces a challenge that has deprived our communities of valued lives, burst state and federal budgets, overcrowded jails and prisons, filled up the emergency rooms, and drained health-care budgets.
For some time, the war on drugs has prioritized a mass incarceration of individuals with addiction. Policymakers have realized the failure of these policies, and a strategy based on public health, safety and criminal justice reform is emerging that prioritizes human life instead.
“The Senate Judiciary Committee’s action means that the Congress is not only willing to treat addiction to opioids and heroin like the chronic disease that it is, but that they are serious about allocating real resources to helping Americans in need,” said Becky Vaughn, vice president of addictions for the National Council for Behavioral Health.
Sovereign Health is a leading behavioral health treatment provider, devoted to the provision of evidence-based treatment for substance abuse disorder and mental illness. Our aim is to see our patients not just succeed in treatment but thrive in their normal lives as well. If you or a loved one is currently struggling to regain control of your life, call us right away via our 24/7 helpline.
About the author
Sana Ahmed is a staff writer for Sovereign Health Group. A journalist and social media savvy content developer with extensive research, print and on-air interview skills, Sana has previously worked as an editor for a business magazine and been an on-air news broadcaster. She writes to share the amazing developments from the mental health world and unsuccessfully attempts to diagnose her friends and family. For more information and other inquiries about this article, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.