Making it harder for people to access opioid painkillers could result in people suffering needlessly. What’s more, for patients who have already become dependent upon opioids, making it harder for them to acquire drugs like OxyContin (oxycodone), often results in people turning to heroin—a form of opioid that is commonly stronger, cheaper and easier to get your hands on.
Over the last year or so, there have been a number of government efforts to reign in the opioid addiction crisis. Much of measures fall under the umbrella of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), a bill which many experts believe is severely underfunded. CARA includes plans to:
- Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs).
- Make it easier to acquire the overdose antidote naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan.
- Increase access to addiction treatment services, especially in rural America.
"With 78 people dying every day it’s reprehensible that Congress would pass an opioid bill without providing any funding," said Michael Botticelli, the director of national drug control policy, in reference to CARA.
On Monday, there were several announcements made, including:
- The Food and Drug Administration will give $40,000 prize to encourage software developers to create a mobile app to allow opioid users, their friends and families, and first responders to better identify and react to an overdose.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) gave 1,275 medical practitioners waivers, allowing them to treat as many as 275 patients each with buprenorphine.
- The Veterans Administration will announce funding to support Veterans Drug Courts, hoping to encourage judges to order treatment for veterans with addiction problems.
If you are having trouble watching the video, please click here.