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Jacquelyn Sommer

Manager, Policy & Advocacy

Comprehensive Addiction Bill Passes Senate

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In a near-unanimous vote, the Senate today approved the Comprehensive Addictions and Recovery Act, the first standalone bill to pass the Senate in years. Known as CARA (S.524), the legislation authorizes much-needed funding for evidence-based prevention, treatment and recovery programs to help Americans struggling with addiction to heroin or opioids.  The bill passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 94-1 and now moves to the House for consideration.

The National Council applauded the Senate’s approval of CARA. “Let’s not kid ourselves: addictions to painkillers, heroin and alcohol are chronic diseases just like diabetes or heart disease. We’re talking about a health crisis that dwarfs the Ebola outbreak. It’s physically and emotionally crippling, wrecks families, jobs and local economies, and it takes millions of lives,” said Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health. “The only way to attack a crisis of this magnitude is for the government, health care and law enforcement communities to attack the problem with adequate prevention, treatment and recovery services. Such an effort takes time, commitment, patience and yes, money. We are so gratified that the Senate has come to their aid.”

The National Council thanks Senators Whitehouse, Portman and Ayotte, along with all the supporters of the bill, for their efforts to advance this important legislation. We urge our members to join us in thanking your Senators for supporting CARA.

The Comprehensive and Addictions Recovery Act authorizes $600 million for grants to address the national prescription and opioid and heroin addiction epidemics.  Authorized funds could be used for treatment and recovery services, alternatives to prison for nonviolent offenders, law enforcement initiatives, and programs to prevent overdose deaths and improper prescriptions.