After passing in the House last week, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) passed in the Senate this week and is now headed to the president’s desk for signature. This is a major piece of legislation and the first drug-related law in nearly 40 years to pass with no criminal penalties attached to it.
The bill, which authorizes $181 million in funds for a comprehensive response to the opioid epidemic, provides the first dedicated federal money to states to support pre-arrest diversion programs like the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs that OSI-Baltimore has developed with the Baltimore Police Department.
Once funds are appropriated by Congress, it will expand access to evidence-based treatment including medication-assisted therapy, naloxone, and support and prevention services.
While the passage of CARA is a step in the right direction, OSI understands that more must be done to recognize that addiction is a chronic disease and should be treated through the medical system, not the criminal justice system. Our Drug Addiction Treatment program supports programs that make opioid addiction treatment accessible to as many people as possible by lowering the threshold to get into treatment and increasing the types of settings where treatment is available.