Getting the government to care about addiction has been a long road. Bill after bill has been proposed only to be met with an outstanding rejection. No matter how addiction has been framed or fought for, the government, until now, was hesitant to respond. Millions of dollars were spent elsewhere while thousands upon thousands of lives were lost globally. Recent months have seen the passing of major celebrities and the ever increasing rise in death tolls. Various counties throughout the country have tried declaring states of emergency in an effort to receive aid for addiction treatment. States like Tennessee are seeing a rise in babies born addicted to opioids. Needless to say, addiction has become a current affair.
Wednesday, July 13, the US Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that reframes addiction as a health problem, rather than a criminal problem. Criminalization of drugs contributes to a culture of shame and stigma, labeling addiction as an issue of morality rather than mental illness. After passing the House and now Senate, the bill now moves onto President Obama. Thankfully, the president has been outspoken about his favor toward taking action on the drug epidemic. Specifically opiates. He did turn down legislation that would restrict prescription amounts of opioid drugs, however, many states have passed their own laws for regulation.
The bill covers most of the requests brought forth by dozens of proposals throughout the year. While it includes the majority of the specifications it lacks in one common area: funding. Originally, President Obama requested $1.1 billion dollars. According to NPR, this bill promises about half that amount. Compared to previous versions, the funding was increased by 542%.
Included in the bill:
- Nurses and PA’s (physician assistants) can prescribe evidence-based prescription treatment medications
- Department of Health and Human Services can give grants to state and community organizations to further their treatment and recovery programs
- Police Departments can send people under arrest for drug charges to treatment rather than jail
Separating addiction from crime is highlighted in one specific provision. For five years, the Department of Justice is authorized to spend $100 million per year. Including finding alternatives for opioid addicts, the provision allows the use of methadone and buprenorphine to treat inmates.
A most popular inclusion of the bill is the use of the “miracle drug” Naloxone, which reverses opioid overdose. Pharmacies will have more of the drug as well as schools and community centers.
The Center for Life Change believes in the forward motion of progress in treating addiction. Our intensive outpatient program for treatment incorporates evidence based modalities and spiritually based support. For more information call (951) 775-4000.