Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen Issues Statement Commending U.S. Senate on Passage of Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BALTIMORE, MD (March 10, 2016)–Today, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen issued the following statement commending the U.S. Senate on passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (S. 524), a bill to help tackle nation’s opioid & heroin epidemic:

“We applaud the U.S. Senate for its bipartisan effort to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2016, which will help our nation combat the opioid epidemic—a public health crisis that is affecting communities across every part of our country.

Last December, I was proud to testify in front of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on how Baltimore is leading the way nationally with innovative strategies and evidence-based solutions, specifically around three pillars:

  1. Preventing deaths from overdose and saving the lives of people suffering from addiction, with one of the most aggressive overdose prevention programs in the country that includes a blanket prescription for naloxone to 620,000 residents;
  2. Increasing access to quality and effective on-demand treatment, including with medications, psychosocial support, plans for a 24/7 behavioral health urgent care, and case management services; and
  3. Expanding addiction education and awareness to reduce stigma, including with education for local doctors around opioid prescribing practices and a “Don’t Die” campaign for residents.

This bill would provide new support for each of these three pillars, and emphasizes what we know from science and research: that addiction is a disease, that treatment exists, and that recovery is possible.

Senate passage of the CARA Act is critical first step in this effort. I hope the House of Representatives works quickly to consider this legislation in their respective chamber. Baltimore has been fighting heroin and opioid addiction for decades.

With the assistance of federal partners, we are transforming Baltimore into a national model for addiction recovery to provide care, save lives, and ensure equity and justice.”

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