by Comprehensive Staff
Earlier this summer, Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) which aims to address the growing opioid addiction problem in this country. CARA was signed into law on July 22, 2016, which marks the first time in decades that comprehensive addiction legislation has been enacted.
The law is considered “comprehensive” in that it addresses six major pillars of addiction response: prevention, treatment, recovery support, criminal justice reform, overdose reversal, and law enforcement. CARA authorizes $181 million in funding for a variety of opioid addiction treatment and prevention programs, though the funding is not guaranteed until Congress proceeds with the federal funding appropriations process later this year.
The provisions in CARA allow for—among other things— expanded Medication Assisted Treatment programs, increased access to naloxone (an emergency medication to reverse opioid overdose), expansion of prescription drug monitoring programs, and creation of prevention education programs. These services will largely be administered through agencies and nonprofits as they receive grants from the US Dept. of Health and Human Services.
Although CARA does not include all of the funding desired by its supporters, the law does reflect a major change in policy regarding addiction treatment. Instead of addressing addiction as a criminal issue or as an issue of moral failing, this law recognizes addiction as a public health concern. For many people, stigma is one of the biggest barriers to seeking help for mental illnesses or substance use disorders. By treating addiction as a health issue, CARA helps to de-stigmatize treatment and encourage individuals that there are options for recovery.
More about CARA: