February 11, 2016

Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act Clears Judiciary Committee

Whitehouse and Portman’s Far-Reaching Legislation to Combat Prescription Opioid Drug and Heroin Abuse Now Headed to the Senate Floor

Washington, DC – The Senate Judiciary Committee passed today the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act—far-reaching legislation to combat the ongoing national crisis of addiction to opioid drugs.  The bill, authored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) and cosponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and 27 others, gives states better tools to prevent drug abuse, treat addiction, and reduce overdose deaths.

“Addiction is a disease that afflicts far too many Americans.  In Rhode Island, I’ve heard from people in all walks of life and from every corner of the state about the damage addiction does.  I’ve also witnessed the tremendous strength of those battling addiction and how far they can go if they have treatment and support,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Judiciary Committee.  “This legislation will give the teachers, law enforcement officers, health care 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.”

“This is an important step in the fight to save our friends, neighbors, and family members struggling with addiction,” Portman stated.  “This is the only bipartisan legislation that includes a comprehensive and evidence-based approach to help communities combat this epidemic.  It has significant support from both sides of the aisle, as well as from doctors, nurses, first responders, those in recovery, and other experts in the field.  The heroin epidemic in Ohio has reached crisis levels and I will continue to work to get this bill over the finish line.”

“As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand the devastating effects drug abuse can have on families in Minnesota and across the country,” Klobuchar said.  “We must spare no effort to reverse this deadly trend. Today’s vote brings us one step closer to passing this critical bipartisan legislation and giving communities the tools they need to combat drug abuse.”

“We must work quickly to stem the prescription opioid and heroin abuse epidemic facing New Hampshire and the nation, and I am encouraged by today’s progress towards passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act,” said Senator Ayotte.  “I urge all of my colleagues in the Senate to support this important bipartisan legislation, which takes important steps to improve treatment for those struggling with a substance use disorder, enhance prevention efforts, ensure law enforcement and first responders have greater access to tools to support their efforts on the front lines, support those in recovery, and develop best prescribing practices for pain management.”

Whitehouse and Portman introduced the bill in February 2015.  During the drafting of the bill, Senators Whitehouse, Portman, Klobuchar, and Ayotte held five bicameral and bipartisan congressional briefings with stakeholders from public health, law enforcement, criminal justice, and other fields looking at ways to better support addiction treatment and recovery. 

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act would:

  • Expand prevention and educational efforts—particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations—to prevent the abuse of opioids and heroin and to promote treatment and recovery. 
  • Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives. 
  • Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment.
  • Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of our children and adolescents.
  • Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and interventions program.  While we have medications that can help treat addiction, there is a critical need to get the training and resources necessary to expand treatment best practices throughout the country.
  • Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.

The legislation is also supported by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), National District Attorneys Association, the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD), Faces and Voices of Recovery, the National Council for Behavioral Health, and the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, among others.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921