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Drowning In Opioids – Can The Cures Act Save The US

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Drowning In Opioids – Can The Cures Act Save The US

On December 13, 2016, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act, allocating one billion dollars to fight the opioid epidemic, but will it be enough to help the 19 million plus Americans who are misusing prescription drugs? 

The Cures Act, totaling $6.3 billion, is split as follows:

  • 48% – biomedical research
  • 29% –  cancer
  • 16% – the opioid epidemic
  •   7% – FDA innovation projects


Hope For Our Community

Let’s use the analogy of a boat. SAMHSA, (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), which oversees substance abuse and mental health, is our boat. Buried within The Cures Act is The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Reform Act of 2016, which beefs up SAMHSA’s leadership. New roles include an Assistant Secretary to head the existing administration and a Chief Medical Officer, who must have real world experience in treating mental health and/or substance abuse. I.E. that person has treated this population him/herself.  

SAMHSA’s new CMO and Assistant Secretary are our captains, but who’s in the boat with us? The Act reaches out to help women, children, students, veterans, minorities, Native Americans, health care workers, minority health care workers, college students, homeless, and prisoners. The Act also extends a formal welcome to our newest guests, those suffering from eating disorders by clarifying coverage of benefits for them which includes residential treatment.

Funds For NEW Programs

The bigger question is, who gets what? Every year for the next five years the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Program gets $7 M, Screening and Treatment for Materanal Depression gets $5 M, and the Minority Fellowship Program gets $12.6 M each year.

Finding new solutions is the big winner, receiving $42 M spread over three years is allocated to ensuring Mental and Substance Use Disorder Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery programs keep pace with science and technology.

 While the following funds spread over five years go to: 

Parting Gifts With Unspecified Funds

Every Federal Judicial District will now be required to create a Drug and Mental Health Court pilot program. The program allows low-level offenders, who are either mentally ill or addicted to narcotics, to avoid incarceration by seeking intensive court-mandated treatment. The Helping Families Act also authorizes “funding” with no set dollar amount for transitional and relapse prevention programs of released prisoners.

New Acceptance

The Cures Act won’t be able to cure our nation’s opioid epidemic, but it’s one step in the right direction. Thanks to this Act and the Surgeon General’s Report on Addiction, our community is gaining funds and acceptance.

A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By: Pam Carver




Pam is the author of Co-dependent In The Kitchen, and she’s a contributing editor for Recovery Guidance. She’s a recovery advocate who likes long walks on the beach and chocolate.

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