Hatch Hails Passage of Bill to Curtail Heroin and Opioid Abuse

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)—a member and former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions—today hailed the Senate’s passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA).

This legislation takes meaningful steps to curtail the twin epidemics of opioid and heroin abuse by promoting addiction recovery, expanding prevention efforts, and strengthening drug education programs. Following the Senate’s action, Senator Hatch issued the following statement:

“The sweeping prevalence of opioid and heroin abuse is nothing short of a national emergency. Today, the Senate took meaningful steps to address this crisis with the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. This commonsense legislation throws a life preserver to those caught in the undercurrent of addiction. It provides critical funding for treatment programs that help addicts break free of their dependency and return to normal life. Through CARA, we can help the millions of Americans whose lives are being ravaged by addiction.”

CARA passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support and now awaits consideration in the House of Representatives.

BACKGROUND

The abuse of heroin and prescription painkillers has a devastating effect on public health—both in Utah and across the nation.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses now surpass automobile accidents as the leading cause of injury-related death for individuals between the ages of 25 and 64.  Each day, 120 Americans die as a result of overdose. Each month, 21 Utahns die from the misuse of prescription painkillers—a number that has increased 400 percent in the last decade. According to a recent statistic, Utah is fifth in the nation in opioid-related deaths.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 will address opioid and heroin abuse by:

  • Bolstering prevention and educational efforts—particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations—to prevent the abuse of opioids and heroin and to promote treatment and recovery;
  • Increasing the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives;
  • Boosting resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders;
  • Expanding disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of children and adolescents;
  • Launching an evidence-based treatment and intervention program to expand best practices throughout the country;
  • Initiating a medication-assisted treatment and intervention demonstration program; and
  • Strengthening prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.