Call Congress Dec. 9 And Tell Them To Pass CARA

By Keri Blakinger 12/08/15

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act will establish a sweeping coordinated strategy to fight addiction.

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On Dec. 9, advocates will make their voices heard by calling on Congress to support the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA).

If enacted, CARA would use an array of mechanisms and up to $80 million of funding to establish a sweeping coordinated strategy to fight addiction. Some of the bill’s highlights include:

  • Funding community recovery organizations for support services, education and outreach, and building community support.
  • Directing the Department of Education to remove the question about prior drug convictions from student loan and Pell Grant applications. 
  • Expanding the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies.
  • Establishing a task force to eliminate the collateral consequences of drug convictions.
  • Expanding resources to treat and identify drug abuse in prisons.
  • Creating more prescription medicine disposal sites.
  • Strengthening prescription drug monitoring programs.

The bill was introduced in September 2014 and reintroduced in February for the new legislative session. It has since been referred to committee, but the bill has yet to come to a vote.

In the Senate, CARA is sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and has 20 cosponsors from both parties. In the House, it’s sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and has 64 cosponsors.

In April, a coalition of activists and advocates held a mass call-in day to show support, and now another day of support is scheduled for Dec. 9.

An online campaign at the Addiction Policy Forum allows visitors to enter their address and find their senators and representatives. The relevant phone numbers pop up along with a phone script to use when talking to legislators.

Faces and Voices of Recovery offers links to email legislators, share CARA updates on social media, watch webinars about the bill, organize community listening forums to build support, and track the bill.

Even though the measure has enjoyed strong support in the addiction and recovery community, GovTrack gives the bill just a 4% chance of being enacted.

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.