Senate Bill Passes To Fight Against Painkiller Abuse & Heroin Addiction

Senate BuildingPainkiller Abuse & Heroin Addiction Bill Passed By The Senate

With the growing epidemic of opioid addiction, the U.S. Senate recently passed bipartisan legislation to support actions to combat the problem. Known as the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), the legislation passed on March 10th was specifically written to help control addiction to prescription opioid painkillers and heroin.

Just What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a specific class of drugs that include prescription painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and fentanyl, as well as the illicit drug heroin. Opioids interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain and nervous system to produce pleasurable feelings and to relieve pain.

How Big Is The Opioid Addiction Problem?

Heroin addiction was once thought of as anStreets inner-city problem that only affected down and out individuals who lived on the street. Today, nearly two million Americans 12 or older are addicted to prescription painkillers, and over 580,000 have a substance abuse problem involving heroin. There were more than 18,000 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers in 2014, and over 10,000 overdose deaths linked to heroin. The overdose rate has more than quadrupled in the last 15 years. Yes, the problem is serious and growing rapidly!

How The Legislation Will Help

CARA is a big shift from previous governmental efforts to control opioid addiction. Rather than placing some drug offenders into the criminal justice system, they may gain access to evidence-based, rehab treatment for painkiller addiction treatment if this bill gets passed by Congress.Individuals currently in prison for drug offenses may also receive greater access to treatment. CARA could also provide funds for medication-assisted treatment programs that use methadone and other opioid medications to wean patients from heroin and other opioid drugs.

The bill has now shifted to the House of Representatives. However, it’s unclear if and when it will be signed into law, particularly since there is a similar bill that is currently pending that is focused on funding for treatment for heroin addiction.

Do You Or A Loved One Need Help For Opioid Addiction?

While there may be more treatment resources available soon if CARA or other legislation is passed, there is help now. Don’t wait for an opioid addiction to get worse. Call now to speak with an addiction specialist.

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Senate Looking For Ways To Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

aphaThe Senate has formed a committee called HELP (Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions), that is geared to preventing prescription drug abuse. The committee recently heard from the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) ways that the Senate could curb the amount of prescription drug abuse in our nation. The APhA recommended several ways in which the U.S. government could put a significant dent in the growing painkiller epidemic.

The APhA told the Senate that the DEA needed to be more vocal about health professionals’ roles and the expectations that the DEA had for them. It is a relatively new concept that primary care providers and other healthcare workers be included in those who are needed to fight the prescription drug abuse battle. Healthcare facilities all over the country have begun doing their own drug abuse screenings and establishing new policies that are intended to eliminate or significantly lower the amount of doctor shopping that occurs. However, the healthcare facilities that are taking these measures are doing so on their own, with no government regulation, and they are certainly not mandated to take these sorts of steps. The APhA recommended that the DEA step in and regulate these measures and include healthcare facilities that are not taking steps to preventing prescription drug abuse.

The group also recommended that the government support and increase the amount of sites established to safely dispose of prescription drugs. It is well known that many addicts get their start on prescription drugs by finding the pills in a medicine cabinet and begin experimenting. If the government supports and initiates more sites devoted to safe disposal, it is likely that those prescriptions will be kept out of the hands of a potential addict.

These recommendations and more were presented to the Senate by Michal Spira. In addition to hearing Mr. Spira’s talk, the Senate also heard suggestions from the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, National Community Pharmacists Association, and National Association of Chan Drug Stores. All of this was in an attempt to lower the amount of dangerous prescription drugs available to children and teens throughout the country.