In late July, President Obama signed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA) into law. CARA addresses the growing opioid abuse epidemic in the United States, which took more than 18,000 lives in 2014, a 16 percent increase from the previous year. Among a number of provisions, the new law will increase access to medication-assisted drug treatment for opioid addiction and expand the availability of naxolone for first responders dealing with opioid overdose situations.
While the President has praised CARA, he has also criticized what he sees as a lack of adequate funding for addressing the opioid crisis. In his official statement upon signing the legislation, President Obama said that, although the bill “takes some modest steps,” Congress had “failed to provide any real resources for those seeking addiction treatment to get the care they need.” Lawmakers had previously rejected President Obama’s ask for more than one billion dollars of additional funds. Instead, CARA authorizes just $181 million in spending for new substance abuse programs.
Rooted in the Jewish tradition’s teachings about the dangers of using harmful substances, the Reform Movement has long spoken out against drug abuse and in favor of policies that combat drug addiction. In 1989, the URJ resolved to “declare its unequivocal opposition to all forms of substance abuse,” and, more recently, the Movement has voiced support for alternatives to incarceration for substance abuse. CARA, although not a perfect law, will take meaningful steps to ensure that people who suffer from opioid addiction have a better chance to get on the path to recovery.
Photo courtesy of Cezary P.