DES PLAINES, Ill. (July 25, 2016) – The Emergency Nurses Association applauds Congress for passing, and President Obama for signing into law on Friday, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). The new law represents a comprehensive response to the opioid epidemic including prevention, treatment, support for those in recovery and justice reform.
CARA will create and expand critical programs to fight the scourge of abuse, addiction, overdose and death resulting from the rapidly-increasing use of prescription opioids and heroin. Many of CARA’s provisions are consistent with ENA’s support for efforts at the state level to expand access to treatment and emergency care through distribution and training on reversal agents such as Naloxone.
“Emergency department visits linked to misuse or abuse of prescription opioids have risen by more than 50 percent since 2004,” said ENA President Kathleen E. Carlson, MSN, RN, CEN, FAEN. “Enacting CARA is a major step in the right direction for battling the opioid epidemic and heroin crisis that is plaguing our emergency departments. We’re grateful that Congress and the President acted to improve resources available to emergency care professionals.”
CARA will allow for:
- Creation of a task force to review and provide recommendations on developing best practices in pain management
- Establishment of grant programs to provide for the purchase and distribution of opioid reversal drugs like naloxone, as well as training for first responders and other key community sectors — a principal ENA priority
- Nurse practitioners to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication that helps patients and their addiction to opioids
- Creation of a public awareness campaign about the links between prescription pain killers and heroin addiction
- Grants to carry out opioid abuse response efforts including education, treatment and recovery efforts, maintaining prescription drug monitoring programs and preventing overdose deaths
CARA was introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI).
According to the Centers for Disease Control, overdoses from heroin, prescription drugs and opioid pain relievers last year surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of injury-related death in America.