WASHINGTON, D.C. – Over the past few years, researchers, independent advocacy groups, law enforcement and federal agencies, and bipartisan Members of Congress have been working together in an effort to reform America’s broken criminal justice system and find solutions to some of the country’s most devastating challenges. One such challenge is widespread heroin and opioid addiction. 

Between 2002 and 2013, national heroin deaths nearly quadrupled, reaching more than 8,000 annually by 2013. In that same year, an estimated 517,000 people used heroin – a figure up 150 percent from just six years earlier. Throughout the United States, addiction is ravaging communities and destroying lives. 

Last year, in an effort to combat this deadly epidemic, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA), which offers a critical first step toward ending heroin and opioid addiction. 

Provisions within the bill establish community-based anti-drug coalitions, a national education campaign aimed at deterring new and young users from trying the drug, and creating alternative incarceration programs and outpatient treatment centers for non-violent drug offenders.

Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced its plans to reassess the agency’s approach to opioid medications. According to the FDA, the proposed multifaceted plan will focus on policies aimed at reversing the epidemic, while still providing effective medication. 

Congressman Sensenbrenner:
 “For more than a decade, there has been an alarming rise in heroin and opioid addiction, causing devastation to individuals, families, and communities throughout the nation. Last year, I introduced the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA) to address this serious problem. With a Senate companion bill and the FDA’s newly reaffirmed commitment to finding solutions, I’m confident in the direction our country is headed toward solving widespread addiction.” 

companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse [D-RI]. Both bills await passage in the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, respectively.