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President Obama Signs CARA

The National Association is pleased to report that on July 22, 2016, President Obama signed S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA) into law.

The legislation was signed unceremoniously as Congress is recessed and the White House is disappointed (*see the President's statement below) that funding that could have been included in the final bill was not. While The National Association and much of the addiction service profession shares some of that disappointment, it is important that we recognize the significant value of this law. 

The National Association worked hard with our unified colleagues in the addiction services policy advocacy community to make this law a reality. Our members joined the effort and made calls to their representatives. The policy advocacy efforts of our professional society were successful.   

CARA addresses six pillars of a comprehensive response to addiction: prevention, treatment, recovery support, criminal justice reform, overdose reversal, and law enforcement. CARA includes:

  • Treatment. Addiction as a disease with individualized treatment and follow-up with each patient including $160 million in treatment programs, expansion of Medication Assisted Treatment, and specialized programs for pregnant and postpartum women, veterans and youth.
  • Funding. $192 million in new resources to supplement the $7.65 billion sought in continued funding. 
  • Prevention. Includes education efforts, community-based prevention and supports Drug-Free Communities and a critical awareness campaign.
  • Recovery. Creates a new recovery program to provide robust recovery services in local communities as well as recovery supports for communities, schools and higher education in comprehensive programs nationwide.
  • Overdose Reversal. Expands the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives. 
  • Access to Treatment. Expands quality treatment capability through the Evidence-Based Opioid and Heroin Treatment Pilot, the Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Expansion and Modernization Act, and expands access to Medication Assisted Treatment by giving prescribing authority to Nurse Practitioners and Physicians Assistants nationwide.
  • Law Enforcement. Expands overdose reversal capacity and training for law enforcement, resources to better divert individuals with Substance Use Disorders, and assistance with disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications.
  • Criminal Justice Reform. Helps treat individuals with Substance Use Disorders in communities and treatment systems.

Special thanks for their efforts to make CARA law go out to NAATP DC Policy Representative Mark Dunn, our advocacy group partners, our colleague addiction treatment organizations, and all our members who reached out to their representatives.
Marvin Ventrell

Executive Director
The National Association


The President said: "Today, I signed S.524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 into law.  This legislation includes some modest steps to address the opioid epidemic.   Given the scope of this crisis, some action is better than none. 

However, I am deeply disappointed that Republicans failed to provide any real resources for those seeking addiction treatment to get the care that they need.  In fact, they blocked efforts by Democrats to include $920 million in treatment funding.

Every day, 78 Americans die from opioid overdoses.  I have heard from too many families across the country whose lives have been shattered by this epidemic, including a mom from Ohio who recently wrote: "There are not near enough facilities in this area to handle the amount of care that is needed... We need help."

My Administration has been doing everything we can to increase access to treatment, and I'm going to continue fighting to secure the funding families desperately need.  In recent days, the law enforcement community, advocates, physicians, and elected officials from both sides of the aisle have also joined in this call.  Now, it's up to Republicans to finish the job and provide adequate funding to deal with this public health crisis.  That's what the American people deserve."