As a person and student in recovery, I am often asked questions about political standings, how I got into school, why did I decide to go to school, and where I went to treatment. Which most of the time they are simple questions that have simple answers.
I began to do research and ask people the tough questions of “WHY?” Why don’t we have access to community supports beyond treatment? Why are their practically ZERO places for women after completion of a treatment program? And most importantly, why don’t people give us a second chance? Not to say that some organizations or people don’t give us a second chance.
I had to face the facts, there was not much for me to do when it came to assistance for me and others like me. I looked up state programs and I found some assistance, but mostly for underserved populations, not recovery related. I looked up collegiate assistance for people in recovery….nothing, excluding my amazing community college that had a recovery meeting every other week on campus and other events. I began to look further and found something that caught my eye.
I learned about CARA, which is the abbreviation for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. The name sounds pretty great, right? But what is it all about?
As listed on a Government legislation tracking website (Govtrack.us), the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act would expand the availability of naloxone — which can counter the effects of a heroin or opioid overdose — to law enforcement agencies and other first responders. It would also improve prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion “and to help at-risk individuals access services”. This will shift resources towards identifying and treating incarcerated people who are suffering from a substance use disorder, rather than just punishment – as it is often the case currently. One final thing that will have a huge impact in the current college system is to prohibit the Department of Education from including questions about the conviction of an applicant for the possession or sale of illegal drugs on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) financial aid form. This is only a brief description of CARA, it would do so much more than this.
This bill was just passed in the Senate. We as the people of this country who are affected by substance use disorder have a responsibility to be informed about legislation like this. This is not the first time this bill has been talked about. The first time it was introduced was in 2014. You may be asking yourself if it was talked about two years ago then why hasn’t Congress voted on it, or why haven’t you heard about it? There are several reasons, maybe it did not have enough steam to get through congress, and maybe the effect of what was happening around the country just was not serious enough yet. Which I think is, unfortunately, the case sometimes. Another reason… because we, the voters, did not tell our elected officials to vote YES!
We have a voice, and it is our responsibility to use it. Even when we don’t use it, that is still making a choice whether you believe it or not. We need to tell our Legislators what we need from them. This bill is only one of many things we need to change in our system to get people the help they need.
Remember, ask questions and never stop asking until you find the answer. No matter how long it takes, sometimes we are the only ones who can ask and make a difference.
If you would like more information about CARA please visit:
Life of Purpose Treatment
3848 FAU Boulevard, Suite 100
Boca Raton, FL 33431