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      Sober Nation

      Putting Recovery On The Map

      02-10-16 | By

      The CARA Bill: What You Need to Know


      With the country’s prescription pill and heroin epidemic shows little signs of slowing down, legislators from all levels of government are working together in order to pass measures that will not only slow the spread of the current epidemic, but will help get those addicted to opiates and prescription pills they help they need to overcome their addiction.

      One bill that has been proposed by Congress has been the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). Introduced to Congress in September of 2014, is a comprehensive bill that seeks to take head-on the dramatic surge in prescription drug and heroin abuse and deaths that has been plaguing the United States for the past decade.

      Understanding the CARA Bill

      The CARA Bill would establish a comprehensive, coordinated and balanced strategy for communities across the country to tackle the issues regarding prescription and opiate abuse. This ultimate goal would be accomplished through the use of enhanced grant programs that would expand both prevention and education efforts while also promoting crucial services such as drug treatment, relapse prevention education as well as aftercare options that promote recovery.

      Under the CARA Bill, those communities who facing a prescription drug or opiate crisis would be given the means to effectively address these local issues with help from the newly established Community-Based Coalition Enhancement Grant Program for current and former Drug-Free Communities grantees. The following are examples where grants would be issued:

      • States, local governments, and nonprofit organizations to expand educational efforts to prevent abuse of opioids, heroin, and other substances of abuse, understand addiction as a chronic disease, and promote treatment and recovery;
      • Organizations that have received a grant under the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997 to implement comprehensive community-wide strategies that address local drug issues.
      • States, local governments, Indian tribes, and nonprofit organizations for treatment alternative to incarceration programs for individuals who have come into contact with the criminal justice system, have a substance use disorder, mental illness, or both, and have been approved for participation in such a program.
      • State, local, or tribal law enforcement agencies to create a pilot law enforcement program to prevent opioid and heroin overdose death and to expand or make available disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications.
      • States, local governments, and Indian tribes to implement medication assisted treatment programs through their criminal justice agencies.
      • state substance abuse and criminal justice agencies, jointly, to address the use of opioids and heroin among pregnant and parenting female Offenders in a state to promote public safety, public health, family permanence, and well-being.
      • States to prepare a comprehensive plan for and implement an integrated opioid abuse response initiative.

      Other Ways That the CARA Bill Would Address the Current Drug Epidemic

      Additionally, The CARA Bill would provide much needed help for vulnerable populations such as teenagers, minority populations and elderly in regards to providing proper treatment and crucial aftercare options. The bill also expands the availability of the drug naloxone to law enforcement first responders, and other medical personnel in order to reverse the effects of drug overdoses by administering life saving drugs such as Narcan.

      The Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act will also enable high schools and colleges with substance abuse recovery programs and nonprofit organizations to provide substance abuse recovery support services to high school and college students, to help build communities of support for young people in recovery, and to encourage initiatives designed to help young people achieve and sustain recovery and enable recovery community organizations to develop, expand, and enhance recovery services. With a price tag between $40 to $80 million dollars, these funds would go towards treatment and recovery support services in communities nationwide.

      Why is the CARA Bill So Important?

      The CARA Bill currently is in legislative limbo. After its introduction to Congress, it was referred to committee in February of last year and hasn’t moved any further. With the current drug epidemic, the passage of this bill would be an important turning point in the way we as a nation view drug addiction.

      In an article that was published in Huffpost Healthy Living, Carol McDaid writes the following:

      Why is CARA so important? For too long, we’ve had either a drug du jour addiction policy focusing on heroin in the 1970s, then crack in the 1980s, followed by a mass incarceration of individuals with addiction since that time. Finally, policymakers are realizing these strategies failed, and a strategy based on public health, safety and criminal justice reform together are all essential to making a dent in the growing overdose and death rates as well as the longstanding loss of lives due to the misuse of alcohol.

      While there have been small changes seen, the strategies that need to be implemented to curb our nation’s addiction woes require more than a Band-Aid. Currently, an average of 120 people in the United States are dying of drug overdoses each day. The issue of drug addiction isn’t a partisan issue or an issue that affects only a certain demographic; drug addiction is an issue that affects us all.


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