It's common knowledge that we have an epidemic of opioid abuse. The full House has passed a collection of bills addressing a range of aspects of opioid addiction and treatment. Perhaps the most significant ones are H.R.5046 the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act of 2016 and H.R.4982 the Examining Opioid Treatment Infrastructure Act. These bills are matched with the Senate's S.524 Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA).

HR5046 Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act

H.R.5046 would authorize grants to state, local and tribal governments to develop, implement or expand treatment alternatives to incarceration programs (#ATIs).

Examples of allowable programs include:

  • mental health, drug or veterans treatment court programs
  • pre-booking or post-booking components
  • training for agency staff on substance use, mental health, and co-occurring disorders
  • providing training and resources for first responders on administering opioid overdose reversal drugs
  • developing or expanding medication-assisted treatment programs
  • addressing opioid use by juveniles

It would incentivize states to encourage planning and collaboration between the criminal justice and substance abuse agencies. The grant funding could also be used to develop or expand a prescription drug monitoring program.

When thinking about opioid abuse, it's important to remember that while overdose deaths maybe clustered in particular areas, that is usually because people tend to use close to where they purchase, not close to where they live. Opioid overdoses affect all our communities. Drug court programs are a much less expensive way to deal with substance abuse than incarceration. A helpful analysis of the costs and benefits is here. Each dollar spent provides a return to taxpayers and the community of $12.39. This bill helps with the immediate need to fund programs.

HR4982 Examining Opioid Treatment Infrastructure Act

H.R.4982 has the potential to point the way to a better long term path to address substance abuse. It directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to evaluate the availability of substance abuse treatment and infrastructure needs throughout the United States. It's often said that we only improve the things we measure. This bill may give us a baseline against which to execute our improvement.

This week, Acivilate attended the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) Conference in California. It is encouraging to meet so many people working hard to improve public safety without immediately resorting to incarceration. Thanks to all of you who stopped by.