Lawmakers once believed that addiction was something that we could arrest our way out of; that fear of jail or prison would be enough incentive for people to stop abusing drugs. If only it were that easy. We know now that addiction is a debilitating mental health disorder that must be treated, rather than punished. It does not matter how many times you lock an addict up, without something like a program of recovery to replace the behaviors typified by addiction, addicts will more times than not fall back into the cycle upon release—in turn resulting in recidivism.
While CARA received overwhelming bipartisan support, lawmakers disagreed on how to fund the bill. Many believe that the legislation lacks the necessary funding to accomplish its goals. Fortunately, funding may be found packed into another piece of legislation that was approved in House of Representatives this week, known as the 21st Century Cures Act. Packed within the 996-page measure are several programs for improving healthcare in America, including provisions for strengthening existing mental health parity laws and $1 billion in funding for opioid addiction prevention and treatment, USA Today reports. Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject:
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Much like CARA, the Cures Act received bipartisan support and is a piece of legislation that the current White House Administration supports. There are critics of the Cures Act, but hopefully it will help reign in the opioid epidemic, which claims lives every day of the week. In a statement, the Executive Office of the President wrote:
“The opioid epidemic is devastating families and communities and straining the capacity of law enforcement and the healthcare system. The resources included in the bill will allow states to expand access to treatment to help individuals seeking help to find it and to start the road to recovery.”