A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Continuing to Fight the Opioid Addiction Epidemic: President Obama Signs the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act

By on August 12, 2016 in CARA with 0 Comments

The national opioid addiction epidemic is one of the largest public health crises of our time. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that more people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record, with the majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involving an opioid. In fact, drug overdoses are now responsible for more deaths in the U.S. than motor vehicle accidents and firearms. Legislators have been working together in an effort to address this public health issue.

On July 22, 2016, President Obama signed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2016 into law. The Act garnered overwhelming bipartisan support and was passed by a vote of 92 to 2 in the Senate and a vote of 407 to 5 in the House. The Act expands prevention and educational efforts aimed at adolescents and expands naloxone (used to treat overdoses) availability for law enforcement and first responders. The Act in part also expands disposal sites for unused medications and encourages the use of state prescription drug monitoring programs.

Health care providers are keenly aware of the prevalent prescription drug addiction problem and, as a result, many physicians are implementing policies to combat drug abuse, including requiring opioid patients sign pain treatment agreements. Such agreements are meant to prevent medication misuse while ensuring patients understand their treatment responsibilities and the responsibilities of the provider. However, the Centers for Disease Control reports that many providers still do not consistently use practices that are intended to decrease the risk for misuse, such as prescription drug monitoring programs, urine drug testing, and opioid treatment agreements. Given the tremendous increase in opioid addiction and the intense legislative and regulatory efforts to mitigate the same, practitioners are well advised to reconsider how they assist in preventing opioid addiction, as well as explore practices intended to minimize misuse when prescribing opioids.


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