WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) applauded the passage of the conference report for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which passed the Senate today with strong bipartisan support.

“The tragic opioid epidemic across the country continues to tear apart families, devastate our communities, and cause unnecessary loss of precious life,” said Ernst. “It’s critical that we combat it head-on.”

“Passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act is a positive step forward that will help equip law enforcement, health care stakeholders, and other key groups with the necessary tools to craft local solutions that are most appropriate within communities. CARA also provides critical treatment and recovery options for individuals suffering from substance use disorders.

“In addition, this legislation includes a number of specific provisions aimed at improving pain management practices at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) so that our veterans do not fall victim to this opioid epidemic. It also includes key reforms to help improve VA health care by establishing greater support for veterans in need of care, expanding VA community outreach, and requiring greater accountability of VA health care providers.

“I would also like to thank my colleague, Senator Chuck Grassley, for his leadership in combating this devastating opioid epidemic, and urge the President to swiftly sign CARA into law.”

Iowa Statistics:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 264 people in Iowa died of drug overdoses in 2014.
  • In 2014, 1 out of every 11,000 deaths could be traced to drug overdoses in Iowa.
  • According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a total of 94,000 Iowans used prescription pain medications for non-medical purposes in 2014, including 10,000 youth (ages 12-17).
  • In 2014, 52,000 Iowa residents needed treatment for illegal drug use but failed to receive it, including 7,000 youth (ages 12-17).
  • In 2014, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 1,555 opioid-related emergency department visits compared to 519 in 2006.

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