Press Releases

Senate Passes Bipartisan Bill to Tackle Opioid Epidemic

Sen. Warner voted in favor of bill to combat the growing problem of prescription drug and heroin abuse in Virginia ~

Mar 10 2016

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate voted 94-1 in favor of the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), with support from Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA). The legislation, which now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives, tackles heroin and prescription drug abuse and overdose deaths, a growing epidemic in Virginia and across the country.

“Prescription drug and heroin abuse is devastating families and communities across the Commonwealth. We need to improve treatment for individuals who are suffering from addiction, but also strengthen programs that teach prevention,” Sen. Warner said. “This bill not only focuses on treatment and prevention, but also recognizes the reality of this dire situation by expanding access to overdose-reversal drugs for first responders. While this is a good step forward, I hope Congress can continue to work together in a bipartisan way to ensure that this bill is fully funded so we can save lives and end this epidemic.”

The Senate bill authorizes more than $300 million over five years in federal grants to state and local programs aimed at strengthening treatment for addicts and expanding prevention efforts. In order to curb the number of people who illegally receive multiple prescriptions for painkillers, often from multiple doctors, the bill also improves prescription drug monitoring programs. Additionally, the legislation will help save lives by expanding access to overdose-reversal drugs, like naloxone, for law enforcement and other first-responders.  

In 2014 alone, heroin and prescription drug overdoses claimed the lives of 728 Virginians, a stunning increase that has surpassed fatal car crashes as a leading cause of accidental death in the Commonwealth for the first time ever.