U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is hopeful following a meeting Wednesday of House and Senate conferees on the conference agreement on the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA):
“Today is a significant step forward in our collective efforts to combat this heroin and prescription drug epidemic that is tearing apart families and devastating our communities. This measure was developed in consultation with experts, with doctors, with law enforcement, with patients in recovery, and the Obama Administration as well,” Portman said. “They all had significant input into CARA. A coalition of 200 groups strongly support this measure because they know it will make a real difference in helping Americans put their lives back together. The American people want results, not more dysfunction. I would urge all members of the House and Senate to support this conference agreement.”
CARA is designed to ensure that federal resources are focused on evidence-based prevention, treatment, and recovery programs that have been tested and proven effective in local communities. The CARA conference agreement authorizes $181 million in annual discretionary spending for new programs contained in the legislation. That’s more than double – a 132 percent increase – the authorization level in the Senate-passed CARA bill ($78 million).
On one weekend in 2015 in the city of Portsmouth, approximately 11 people were victims of overdose because of a strain of heroin that was more powerful than usual.
“Occasionally a new drug cartel will come in and they will have either a better product or different product and it’s higher quality than before and if they do the same milligrams they have been shooting up before they can’t handle it,” Scioto County Coroner Dr. Darren Adams said. “It has either been laced with something or it’s more pure because they are trying to entice them to use them.”
CARA, which passed the Senate by a strong 94-1 vote, has been backed by Obama Administration experts and more than 130 national anti-drug groups. Portman said CARA will be effective in combating the drug epidemic because it helps promote education and prevention before drug abuse begins, expands medication assisted treatment, promotes treatment as an alternatives to incarceration, expands naloxone to reduce overdoses, helps veterans, and helps women and babies. It awaits consideration by the House of Representatives.
Sixty-eight people in Scioto County were saved with the use of the overdose reversal medication Naloxone, by non medical personnel in 2015.
“I am really proud at the way people in Scioto County have really stepped up,” Lisa Roberts, RN, of the Portsmouth City Health Department, said. “Sixty-eight people didn’t die in Scioto County because of Naloxone and non-EMS people being able to use it.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.