States and local governments received a major boost in the fight against addiction to heroin and opiates when the Senate passed a bipartisan bill, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. Drug overdose has been one of the leading causes of death in America over the past years.
When the bill, sponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Rob Portman was subjected to a vote, the senators overwhelmingly voted for it with an outcome of 94 to 1. It allows the attorney general to award grants to states so that they can monitor prescriptions of medications. The grants can also be given to non-profit groups and local governments. Other functions that the grants can be used for include expansion of preventive measures and improvement of treatment for addicts.
The bill, however, must be supported by the House where it has already been introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. Before the passage of the bill, Democrats had raised concerns that there are provisions for the money supposed to be used to carry out the suggested programs.
There are provisions for the authorization of $725 million meant for federal although it falls short of allocating any actual funds. These would have to receive an approval as part of the law to provide funds to the federal agencies in the coming fiscal year.
The Whitehouse urged the senate not to pretend that there are any new funds meant to take care of the provision of the new bill. In a statement, it said that lives can only be saved if the funding is allocated as fast as possible. GOP leaders have said that there already is more than $400 million that has been appropriated and that the amount is available to fund the fight against opioid abuse.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the allocations that were made a few months ago are enough to drive the fight against opioid abuse. He said that as of now, the amount is sufficient to make important strides that will make it possible to combat the ever growing addiction problem. His sentiments were largely supported by members of the congress.
On his part, President Obama is asking Congress for an additional $1.1 billion for the 2017 budget that should be used for the treatment of people that have been addicted to prescription drugs. He particularly pointed out that more than 44 people die every day in the US according to statistics received from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of deaths resulting from drug overdose has surpassed those caused by car crashes. At the moment, the main problem facing America is opioid abuse and that is what the bipartisan bill that was passed recently seeks to address.
The grant money from the federal government can be used to set up facilities and other programs that can act as alternatives to putting opiate addicts in jail. An example of this is to fund special programs so that military veterans can overcome painkiller addictions and avoid falling into more agonizing situations.