The CARA Bill: What You Need to Know

Over the past couple of decades, addiction to prescription medications and opiates such as heroin have reached near epidemic proportions. According to statistics provided by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM):

  • 1.9 million Americans live with prescription opioid use or dependence while 519,000 Americans live with heroin addiction.
  • 46 Americans die each day from prescription opioid overdoses; two deaths an hour, 17,000 annually.
  • While illicit opioid heroin poisonings increased by 12.4% from 1999 to 2002, the number of prescription opioid analgesic poisonings in the United States increased by 91.2% during that same time period.
  • About 8,200 Americans die annually from heroin overdoses.
  • About 75% of opioid addiction disease patients switch to heroin as a cheaper opioid source.
  • In 2012, 259 million opioid pain medication prescriptions were written, enough for every adult in America to have a bottle of pills.

In order to combat the two-headed epidemic of prescription and opiate abuse in the United States, Congress has passed the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA). The bill, first introduced by Congress in 2014 and has been gaining momentum this year, is a comprehensive bill that tackles the dramatic surge in prescription drug and heroin abuse and deaths.

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What is the CARA Bill?

The CARA Bill establishes a comprehensive, coordinated and balanced strategy for communities to tackle issues regarding prescription and opiate abuse in their communities. This is accomplished through enhanced grant programs that would expand both prevention and education efforts while also promoting important drug treatment, relapse prevention and recovery options.

The Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act would empower communities facing a prescription drug crisis 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 of instances where these 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.

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Other Ways In Which the CARA Bill Will Help

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 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 and saving lives as a result.

Provisions in 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.

The CARA Bill is the most expensive bill to date for addiction recovery services. In total, between $40 to $80 million dollars would go towards treatment and recovery support services in communities nationwide. While opponents of this bill may raise questions regarding overall effectiveness and costs associated with the bill, the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act would be an essential tool for communities throughout the United States to effectively combat not only prescription drug and heroin addiction, but all forms of drug addiction.

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If You Are Seeking Help For Drug Addiction, Call Dream Center for Recovery

Drug addiction is a chronic and progressive disease that can have severe impacts on the lives of addicts and can tear apart the lives of families and loved ones. No matter what the addiction, Dream Center for Recovery offers a wide variety of drug treatment programming that can be individually tailored to meet your specific addiction and needs in recovery. Our experienced staff is proactive in every step of treatment.

Don’t delay in your decision to get help. Call Dream Center for Recovery today and start reclaiming your life.