Editorial: Feds are finally getting around to drug problem

There has been a lot of talk about the shortcomings of our federal govenment in terms of acting on issues that effect the day-to-to-day lives of Americans. A lot of that talk has come from the bald gentleman below this editorial.

What should be lauded, however, are two federal actions in the last week that deal with a problem that has become arguably this nation’s biggest blight — a rising addiction to prescription opioids and heroin, and the accompanying increases in crimes that can be tied to those addictions.

The U.S. Senate recently approved the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) by a 94-1 vote, in a rare example of bipartisanship. CARA wil provide up to $80 million in funding for prevention, treatment and recovery, strengthen drug-monitoring programs and place an increased emphasis on educating our youth, among other factors.

“Substance abuse is a multi-faceted problem with consequences for everyone,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. “I’ve often said that we as a country pay too much attention to the symptoms of problems, rather than trying to fix the underlying causes. ... We came together across party lines to change our course and make real progress to get to the root of the problem.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that prescription opioid overdoses result in 40 Americans dying each day. In that vein, the CDC this week released guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. There are 12 recommendations made by the CDC to curb the growing addiction problems in the country, with three main principles: non-opioid therapy is preferred for chronic pain outside of cancer, palliative and end-of-life care; the lowest possible dosages should be prescribed and providers should always exercise caution.

It would seem both of these measures should have been taken some time ago, but it is a good sign that they are happening now.