After Senate Passes CARA Act, Maloney Calls on Speaker Ryan to Take Action to Combat Opioid Addiction
Washington — After the Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) by a bipartisan vote of 94-1, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) called on Speaker Paul Ryan and House Republican Leadership to bring legislation to the floor to combat opioid addiction. Rep. Maloney is a co-sponsor of the CARA Act, which would create grant programs for local communities facing prescription drug epidemics to expand prevention and education efforts, increase the availability of naloxone, and promote treatment and recovery.
“Each day 120 Americans die of a drug overdose – these are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters – and I hear about these tragedies everywhere I go. Whether it is from my neighbors at the grocery store, picking my daughters up from school, or talking to local law enforcement about the heroin and opioid epidemic that is killing our children and devastating our community,” said Rep. Maloney. “We should have acted yesterday. Instead of dragging their feet, I urge House Leadership to follow in the Senate’s footsteps and bring the CARA Act to the floor without delay.”
This legislation would provide funding for prevention, treatment, education and recovery to prevent the abuse of opioids and heroin. Specifically, this federal funding would expand the availability of naloxone for law enforcement and first responders, create alternative community-wide strategies to incarceration including law enforcement programs, and expand veterans treatment programs. It would also increase the amount of disposal sites for unused prescription drugs and strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs. Finally, the CARA Act would increase funding and resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction and launch an opioid and heroin treatment and interventions program.
Prescription drug abuse is a growing public health crisis that affects people of every race, income, and educational level. In 2010 alone, opioids contributed to over 16,000 deaths and heroin-involved overdose deaths nearly doubled between 2011 and 2013. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) 2014 National Survey on Drug Abuse, 4.3 million people 12 years or older reported currently abusing prescription drugs. Moreover, each year drug abuse and addiction costs over $534 billion, but the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that we could save $4-$7 in criminal justice costs for every dollar invested in treatment and prevention.
As the White House Office of National Drug Policy notes, the rise in prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse are interconnected. According to the NIDA, 1 in 15 people who take non-medical prescription pain relievers will try heroin within 10 years, and prescription opioid abusers are 40 times more likely to abuse heroin in the future. Because of the challenges in obtaining prescription opioids, abusers are highly likely to seek out cheaper alternatives like heroin, which is often available for a fraction of the price.