In July 2016, President Obama signed into law the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act to address not only the opioid epidemic but drug addiction in general in the United States. This Act is aimed at education, prevention, treatment, and recovery among others. In the last 40  years, no primary federal legislation has been passed to address drug addiction in this country.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction in the United States

Drug and alcohol addiction has become an enormous problem in the United States today and is a very concerning issue. The problem has continuously grown bigger throughout the decades, with a spike occurring at the turn of the century and during the economic recession of 2007-2009.  The fact of the matter is that the United States is now one of the most severely addicted nations in the world with more than twenty-four million drug and alcohol addicts in a country of only about three-hundred and sixty million residents.  If something isn’t done about this problem soon, the issue will get much worse as has been shown by rising addiction statistics.

Organizations like the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, (NSDUH), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, (SAMHSA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), have all gotten together to try and prevent this problem from getting any worse.  Limited success has been seen in these endeavors though, as there are already so many people addicted to drugs and alcohol in the United States.  No matter how good prevention is, addicts are some of the most resourceful people out there, and they will find a way to get substances into the nation one way or the other.

One Preventive Measure that Might Work

A lot of work has been done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, (SAMHSA).  One of the results of some groundwork that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration did was to help set up CARA, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act is all about prevention, which is one of two fundamental ways of stopping addiction in any given area, (that and the rehabilitation of those addicted and currently abusing drugs and alcohol).  This new law includes:

• Prescriber education for starters, (allows nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe buprenorphine to fight opiate addiction)
• Incentivizes Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, (so prescribers can weed out addicts from legitimate patients)
• Authorizes an array of grant programs.

The CARA program will essentially cause a redoubling of efforts in the United States to fight the opioid epidemic with new steps to reduce inappropriate prescribing, change the nation’s understanding of opioids and addiction, and ensure a pathway to recovery for individuals suffering from addiction to opiate drugs and other substances too.

• “CARA is another preventative measure that will make it that much more difficult for drug and alcohol abusers to get a hold of their substances and abuse them.”

When addicts have a hard time getting their substances, they will be that much more likely to seek rehabilitation as a secondary option rather than go through painful withdrawal symptoms and potentially die from them.

Why the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act is Needed

We live in a day and age when substance abuse and addiction is so much more prevalent than it ever was before.  Almost one in every ten Americans is addicted to drugs and alcohol.  For this reason, we need plans like this one.  Prevention is the first action that is taken when addressing drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.  To stop addiction in any given area, you must first prevent the substances from getting into the hands of those who might abuse them.

The types of preventive measures that need to be brought about most include things like:

• Increase law enforcement efforts to stop narcotic drug trafficking in that area
• Increasing education of locals on the harmful effects of drug and alcohol use and abuse so they won’t seek out such substances in the first place,
• Programs like CARA that make the monitoring and prescribing of such drugs so much more stringent and involved.

Rehabilitation is Next

One can never forget about rehabilitation.  Even with plans like CARA in effect, there will still be drug and alcohol addicts out there.  As mentioned above, drug and alcohol addicts are some of the most resourceful and driven people out there, especially when it comes to getting their fix.  If an area does not address their population of drug and alcohol addicts, then they will not be successful in prevention, as those addicts will always find a way to abuse drugs and alcohol in their community regardless of preventive measures.

With rehabilitation, it becomes possible to accurately and efficiently address an area’s drug problem. Those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol can finally get the help that they so desperately need. Rehabilitation presented in the form of inpatient drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers is easily the most effective at accomplishing these goals. They are most definitely needed now more than ever in addiction programs like the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act so that addiction in the nation can finally be brought to bear.

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