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New Bill Tackling Opioid Epidemic Passes Senate and House

  • 7/18/2016 2:18:00 PM
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The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) nearly unanimously passed in both the House and the Senate. The bill  would authorize $181 Million in new federal funds to address the nation's opioid and heroin epidemic.  It would also promote alternatives to incarceration for individuals with substance use issues and provide greater access to medication that reverses the effects of opioid overdose. 

According to the CDC, over 60% of drug overdose deaths are caused from opioids, and the annual number of opioid deaths in America has quadrupled since 1999.  Seventy-eight people die every day from an opioid overdose.  

Opioid-related overdose and death is a national issue, impacting rural and urban communities across the country.  The highest concentrations of opioid deaths  come from communities in Appalachia and the Southwest. In states like West Virginia, where there are higher work-related injuries, prescription opioid addictions are rampant. 

But the practice of prescribing opioids for pain management has been a national practice since a push from the pharmaceutical companies in the 1990s. The latest evidence is that about 1 in 500 people who take opioids for chronic pain longer than 90 days will be dead from opioid related toxicity in an average of 2½ years.

Though many states are changing policies to curtail this practice, many individuals who have developed addictions turn to heroin. Opioid addiction impacts children, too, as they may be placed in care due to issues related to parental addiction, or  born addicted to opioids.
 
Senator Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.), an advocate for CARA, introduced the bipartisan Nurturing and Supporting Healthy Babies Act, which will move to the President for his signature.  Over 55 babies are born every day with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). This bill is designed to address the needs of infants born with NAS, making the specialized treatment more accessible for babies, as well as other measures to improve reporting and treatment knowledge.

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