Portman addiction bill takes a step forward

On Monday, the Senate voted 86-3 to advance the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) legislation authored by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). CARA has earned bipartisan support.

The action follows last week when Portman delivered remarks on the Senate floor about CARA four times. He went to the floor to define, in detail, CARA and how it will work, discuss how his legislation will help combat the drug epidemic by promoting education and prevention.

Portman told them drug experts in the Obama administration who deal with drug policy every day strongly support his bipartisan bill, and urge his colleagues to get CARA signed in to law to begin to help American families.

“This legislation will help us to save our friends, family members, neighbors, communities that are struggling with addiction,” Portman said. “This is a really important opportunity for us to be able to move forward on legislation that is comprehensive, that is bipartisan, that has a companion bill on the House side, so there’s a very good chance that we could get this to the President’s desk. It’s the only bipartisan legislation that is comprehensive and evidence based and it’s critical we move forward with it.”

Portman said his bill is backed by more than 130 national anti-drug groups and ensures that federal resources are devoted to evidence-based education and treatment and recovery programs that work. A final vote is expected later this week.

“One of the most important aspects of this legislation – it expands treatment for pregnant women who struggle with addiction and provides support for babies with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, babies who are born with addiction,” Portman said. “Recently my wife Jane and I visit Rainbow Babies Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. We toured the neonatal unit … it’ll break your heart. Because you find there an increasing number of babies who are born with this addiction. Unfortunately in Ohio, we’ve had a 750 percent increase in the number of babies born with this neonatal abstinence syndrome since 2004… The problem’s getting worse, not better. These hospital visits serve as another reminder: Addiction is a disease. It’s a disease that needs to be treated like other diseases.”

In a recent interview with the Daily Times, Scioto County Coroner Dr. Darren Adams said we have to get the program right.

“It’s there. It’s everywhere. These drug dealers have a better supply system than Walmart. When you can call up and in ten minutes they can deliver to your door, that’s a pretty good supply chain,”Adams said. “We’ve got to make sure we do the treatment right. There’s abuse on that side of things as well. You’ve got to make sure they get the counseling and make sure they get the right medication to try to get them weaned off of this and back into society.”

By Frank Lewis

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Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.