Congress Finally Passed A Bill To Help Fight The Opioid Epidemic

Photographed by Jessica Nash.
As of Wednesday evening, the Senate has passed a landmark bill to address the current opioid drug epidemic. The House of Representatives also passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) last week. Now the bill will go to President Obama for his signature, The New York Times reports.

The bill, which passed 92-2 and received overwhelming bipartisan support, addresses several things that addiction experts and harm-reduction advocates have been calling for in the wake of the current opioid crisis. For instance, the bill will expand access to medication-assisted treatment and the overdose-reversal drug naloxone. However, it doesn't provide federal funding to do so. Instead, republicans have repeatedly argued that funding should and will be discussed through the regular appropriations process.

“CARA promotes many evidence-based interventions that have the potential to more effectively address opioid and heroin dependence and save lives,” said Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance in a statement. “Lawmakers in Congress now must deliver on promises to fully fund CARA if we are to realize its potential.”

Although there will clearly be challenges in implementing CARA, this is a big step forward.