Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act
– Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to convene a Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force to develop: (1) best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication, and (2) a strategy for disseminating such best practices, and authorizes the Attorney General to make grants to states, local governments, Indian tribes and other organizations for educational efforts to prevent drug abuse and to promote treatment and recovery including grants to expand educational efforts to prevent abuse of opioids, heroin, and other substances of abuse, understand addiction as a chronic disease, and promote treatment and recovery; to implement comprehensive community-wide strategies that address local drug crises; for treatment programs as an alternative to incarceration; to create a pilot law enforcement program to prevent opioid and heroin overdose death and to expand or make available disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications; to implement medication assisted treatment programs through criminal justice agencies; for educational programs for incarcerated offenders; for agencies to address the use of opioids and heroin among pregnant and parenting female offenders; to establish or expand veterans treatment programs, and for states to prepare a comprehensive plan for and implement an integrated opioid abuse response initiative.
– Amends the Public Health Service Act to authorize the Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment to award grants to enable state substance abuse agencies, local governments, nonprofit organizations, and Indian tribes or tribal organizations that have a high rate or a rapid increase in the use of heroin or other opioids to expand activities, including medication assisted treatment, for the treatment of addiction in the geographical areas affected.
– Authorizes the Recovery Branch of the Office of National Drug Control Policy to award grants to: (1) enable high schools and colleges with substance abuse recovery programs and nonprofit organizations to provide substance abuse recovery support services to high school and college students, to help build communities of support for young people in recovery, and to encourage initiatives designed to help young people achieve and sustain recovery; and (2) enable recovery community organizations to develop, expand, and enhance recovery services.
– Amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to prohibit the Secretary of Education from including any question about the conviction of an applicant for the possession or sale of illegal drugs on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form.
– Directs the HHS Secretary to establish a bipartisan Task Force on Recovery and Collateral Consequences to: (1) identify collateral consequences for individuals with drug convictions who are in recovery for a substance use disorder, and (2) determine whether such consequences unnecessarily delay such individuals from resuming their personal and professional activities.
– Amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act to direct the Attorney General to report annually on how grants awarded under such Act are used for family-based substance abuse treatment programs that serve as alternatives to incarceration for custodial parents to receive treatment and services as a family.
Addiction is frequently the result of an individual’s struggle with pain control, so research and dissemination of information on best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication could be very positive. Funding to provide treatment to those who want it is absolutely essential.
War on Us is hopeful that funding allocated for the inter-agency task force and for grants to various government and private organizations is financed through reductions in spending on law enforcement and incarceration for non-violent drug offenses, and that this bill doesn’t fund yet more programs to be mandated by a harsh criminal justice system. Program effectiveness is jeopardized when those participating in programs are less than open to help because it is forced under the threat of incarceration if they don’t participate and when information that should be confidential between patient and counselor is shared with probation officers who have the power to incarcerate the patient. In conjunction with funding programs for education and treatment, the damage that’s done by incarceration and harsh, multi-year probation and parole programs must end. In many cases, once an individual is ‘in the system’, they receive so much ‘help’ that they’re unable to break free of the system to have time to simply have a job to support themselves. Help provided should be structured as a public health program and not connected with our failed criminal justice system.
We also hope that analysis of pain management best practices recognizes that many addicts have legitimate pain, and that putting legislation between the patient and the physician, or limiting the physician from the ability to prescribe necessary medications can result in sending the patient to the street to buy drugs of questionable quality, from criminal dealers, with resulting criminal charges for someone simply trying to control pain. Efforts to control supply have been complete failures – ranging from alcohol prohibition to the current War on Drugs, and if we create barriers to patients working with their physicians regarding pain control, we will simply be sending them from their physicians to street dealers where quality of drugs and criminal activity creates harm. More legislation that restricts personal freedoms and the physician/patient relationship is not the way to solve the current fiasco of our War on Drugs.