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Senate Committee Advances Shaheen-Supported Legislation to Address Opioid Crisis

**In a op-ed, Senators Shaheen and King renew their call for the Senate to take up their emergency supplemental funding bill to provide urgently needed resources to first responders and treatment providers**

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced legislation, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that authorizes a series of new initiatives to help stem the tide of the heroin and opioid crisis. Senator Shaheen also renewed her call for the Senate to advance emergency funding for first responders and treatment providers. In an op-ed published today on, Senators Shaheen and Angus King (I-ME) called on Congress to treat this pandemic like past public health emergencies and pass an emergency supplemental funding bill to help those on the frontlines of this crisis.

“There's no question that the heroin and opioid crisis is a national public health ‎emergency, and it's time for Congress to treat it like one,” said Shaheen. “I’m pleased the Senate is making progress with the CARA act, legislation that I support. But this commitment should also be matched with desperately needed emergency funding for our first responders and treatment providers. Public health and law enforcement agencies at all levels currently lack the resources to mount an effective response to this crisis. As we have done with past public health emergencies, we need to mobilize a well-funded national response that is equal to the challenge, and that’s why Congress should work in a bipartisan way to quickly pass my emergency funding legislation as part of the CARA Act when it reaches the Senate floor.”

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act would authorize prevention and education to prevent the abuse of opioids and promote treatment and recovery. It would also expand the availability of the overdose reversal drug Narcan which has saved thousands of lives. Shaheen’s emergency funding legislation would provide supplemental appropriations totaling $600 million to programs at the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 would:

  • Authorizes additional prevention and educational efforts—particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations—to prevent the abuse of opioids and heroin and to promote treatment and recovery.
  • Authorizes expanded availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives.
  • Authorizes additional resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment.
  • Authorizes additional disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of our children and adolescents.
  • Authorizes the launch of an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and interventions program.  While we have medications that can help treat addiction, there is a critical need to get the training and resources necessary to expand treatment best practices throughout the country.
  • Strengthens prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.

Senator Shaheen’s legislation would provide additional emergency funding to the following federal programs:

Department of Justice

  • Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program - $200 million to fund state and local law enforcement initiatives, including prosecution and drug court programs, treatment and enforcement efforts, and prevention and education.
  • COPS Anti-Heroin Task Force Grant - $10 million to assist state and local law enforcement with high per capita levels of opioid and heroin use, targeting resources to support police operations on the ground. Funds would be used to conduct drug enforcement initiatives and investigations. 

Department of Health and Human Services

  • Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant- $225 million for states to fund programs related to prevention, treatment, recovery support and other services.  For many states, this program is the primary source of federal dollars to address the misuse of drugs.
  • Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention for States- $50 million to support the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s work on prescription drug monitoring programs, community health system interventions, and rapid response projects.
  • Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund- $40 million for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to better coordinate and respond to the national heroin and opioid drug abuse crisis.
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse- $35 million for targeted research on drug addiction in order to improve prevention and treatment methods. 
  • Strategic Prevention Framework- Partnership for Success- $20 million to address prescription drug misuse and abuse among 12 to 25 year olds.
  • Medication Assisted Treatment for Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction - $10 million to improve access in high-risk communities to medication-assisted treatment services for heroin and prescription opioids.
  • Safe Schools/Healthy Students- $5 million to support school and community partnerships in efforts to create safe, drug-free environments for learning, and to promote the behavioral health of children.
  • Recovery Community Services Program- $5 million to develop organized statewide networks for peer-to-peer recovery support programs. 

From 2002 to 2013, opioid-related deaths have quadrupled nationally according to the latest data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In New Hampshire in 2014, there was a 76 percent increase in opioid-deaths. In most states, more people are now dying of fatal overdoses than vehicle-related deaths.