CARA: Landmark Addiction Legislation Signed Into Law

CARA is a monumental step forward to better addressing addiction in our country. It finally moves us closer to treating addiction like a disease through evidence-based practices such as medication assisted and individualized treatment. It supports community-based prevention efforts and long-term, robust recovery support. It expands access to naloxone so that we can reverse overdoses and save lives. It helps educate prescribers. It helps law enforcement divert individuals who are struggling with a substance use disorder so that they can be treated in their communities instead of haphazardly through the criminal justice system. It authorizes $181 million each year in new funding to fight this epidemic.

CARA is the product of bipartisan legislation at its finest---three years of collaboration between voices across the spectrum of this issue: families, first responders, doctors, law enforcement, scientists, and policymakers across the nation who have contributed to a piece of truly comprehensive legislation that propels our nation forward.

Family members who have lost a loved one to the opioid epidemic comment on what the passage of CARA means to them: “CARA passing the Senate and funding being appropriated by the House will mean my son's death will not have been in vain. I never got the chance to try to get my son into treatment. All addicts should be able to receive treatment, without groveling, endless phone calls, or never ending waits. If the opioid catastrophe were a contagious disease, we would all be horrified by the lack of support the treatment option receives. Please pass CARA. Please appropriate funding. Without funding, countless children, parents, siblings, and friends will be lost.” - Mitzie Nay, Minot, ND “On April 20, 2016, I lost my son, Emmett (20), to a Heroin overdose….The treatment of addiction in this country needs to be changed.  It is a disease and needs to be treated as such. I personally have never felt such frustration as I did speaking to my son’s primary care doctor and facing the lack of education on the current treatment options available for Opioid addiction –I was simply blown away by the lack of knowledge surrounding a disease that is touching such a huge population.  Our nurses and physicians need to be treating Substance Use Disorder for what it is – a disease.  Our loved ones need individualized treatment, more options for medically assisted treatment and follow-up!   Access to treatment is, in my eyes, one of the other key elements to CARA. My family did not have the luxury of having and extra $30,000 available to send Emmett to a 30-day (or longer) treatment program – and our private insurance plan did not deem treatment “medically necessary” for Emmett.  I am still baffled that multiple overdoses and active Opioid use did not qualify as “medically necessary”.  Had things been dif