Funding to Fight Opioid Abuse

Money lines the floor with 100s

Drug abuse, and particularly opioid addiction, has skyrocketed over the past decade. Based on current models that rightly view addiction as a mental disorder, addiction has become an epidemic that has spread across the entire country. Indeed, addiction adversely affects every demographic in the United States, regardless of class, race, gender, or geographic divisions. Not only does this problem destroy the lives of millions of Americans, but it also is a costly issue that causes billions of dollars in losses for our economy. Here is some information about how our government is planning to handle the problem, and what issues are going overlooked…

Bright new legislation

In July of 2016, there seemed to be a great deal of progress in finding an issue to help fight the spread of addiction. A bipartisan bill, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), was sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, among others. The bill overwhelmingly passed a vote in the Senate and House of Representatives, with counts of 92-2 and 407-5, respectively. This new legislation “promotes many evidence-based interventions…that more effectively address opioid and heroin dependence,” according to the deputy director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Grant Smith.

Underfunding

Although this new bill has large plans for prevention, treatment, and new strategies for law enforcement to handle addiction (based around decriminalization, a much-needed change), there are concerns about whether it really has the strength to enact broad changes around the country. The bill currently allots a budget of $900 million over the course of five years. While this is enough to do some action, this amount doesn’t begin to touch the scope of addiction’s effect on the country. This is especially true because that amount won’t actually be spent without an appropriations bill that is voted on separately, which is a measure that will be much harder to pass, at least to get the full $900 million.

Necessity for a federal plan

Certain detractors of the bill state that they don’t believe addiction will be possible to effectively fight at the federal level. However, although it is true that each state must enact their own strategy to fight the unique ways that addiction affects them, this ignores the fact that drug abuse and the drug trade has cross-pollinated beyond state lines. Addiction has risen, universally, across the country. This necessitates federal action, as it has become a national problem, rather than 50 individual state issues.