The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA) has passed the House and Senate and has been sent to President Obama’s desk to await signature. With bipartisan votes of 92 to 2 in the Senate and 407 to 5 in the House, CARA marks the first major reform of the country's substance abuse policies in more than a generation.
The United States is in the midst of two national epidemics of heroin use and prescription opioid misuse which together are having a devastating impact on the public health and safety of our communities. As psychologists, we know that discoveries in the science of addiction have led to life-saving advances in drug abuse treatments. Unfortunately, the vast majority of individuals in need of treatment are not receiving the care they need.
CARA will save lives by addressing the critical need to prevent heroin use and prescription opioid misuse, improve access to effective substance use disorder treatment, and expand training and resources for first responders, healthcare providers, and law enforcement. While there is still more work to be done, CARA is a significant achievement and marks an important shift from viewing addiction solely as a criminal justice issue to viewing it more broadly as a matter of public health.
We are grateful to the members of the American Psychological Association’s Federal Action Network who have sent hundreds of messages to Capitol Hill over the past few months encouraging Members of Congress to support CARA. We thank you for sharing your expertise and making your voice heard on this issue of grave national importance.
For more information about APA's work on substance use issues please contact Geoff Mumford, Ph.D.