Senate hopes to combat drug overdoses with new legislation

63 South Dakotans died from drug overdoses in 2014. The U.S. Senate hopes to change those numbers by passing bipartisan legislation aimed at drug prevention efforts, supporting law enforcement, and combating drug overdoses.

U.S. Senator John Thune says it's no secret that substances like prescription painkillers, heroin and methamphetamine can have a devastating effect on people. That's why he says Congress must tackle the drug epidemic from all sides.

Along with Thune, U.S. Senator Mike Rounds voted for S. 524, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). CARA seeks to provide an evidence-based approach to help Americans combat drug abuse beginning at the local level.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 will: 

· Expand 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. 

· Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives. 

· Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment.

· Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of our children and adolescents.

· Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program to expand best practices throughout the country. 

· Launch a medication assisted treatment and intervention demonstration program. 

· Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.

Thune said he’s thankful that this legislation passed the Senate, but he was also let down. “I’m disappointed Democrats blocked my amendments that would have benefited Indian Country. We must ensure that Indian Country is not forgotten, which is why I remain committed to finding a path forward to ensure our tribal citizens have greater access to these programs and initiatives.”

Read more here.

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