February 20, 2015

Portman and Whitehouse Renew Push to Combat Drug Addiction and Support Americans in Recovery

Washington, D.C. — With many Americans falling victim to drug addiction and overdoses from opiates, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) have renewed their push to help turn the tide in the struggle against this epidemic. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 would provide a series of incentives and resources designed to encourage states and local communities to pursue a full array of proven strategies to combat addiction – not just one or two. U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are original cosponsors.

“In order to help Americans struggling with drug addiction, we must get beyond a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach,” said Portman.  “To prevent drug abuse and better help the tens of thousands of Ohioans struggling with addiction, we need a comprehensive strategy that starts from the bottom up. This legislation builds on proven methods to enable law enforcement to respond to this heroin epidemic and supports long-term recovery by connecting prevention and education efforts with treatment programs.”

“In Rhode Island, over 200 people died from drug overdoses last year, while many others took strides to overcome their addiction and work toward recovery,” said Whitehouse. “This legislation identifies specific steps that will help us combat addiction and support those in recovery, and provides the tools needed for states and local governments – in coordination with law enforcement, educators, and others – to take them.  It’s a comprehensive approach to a problem that demands our full attention.”

“The Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA) is not just a piece of legislation. CARA is the realization of the entire recovery movement; all the Recovery Month marches, the celebrations of lives saved and lost, and the newly empowered voices of those in recovery and those who still need it,” said Sarah Nerad, Program Manager for the Ohio State Collegiate Recovery Community. “CARA is the culmination of an American culture shift that has now driven real policy change. As the most comprehensive effort of bipartisan legislation for addiction recovery support services, CARA is not only a victory for people in recovery, but for a victory for our country.”

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 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 supported by the 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.

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