Nowadays, most everyone knows of someone who’s been affected by opiate addiction, though the addiction itself may not be plainly recognizable. With addiction rates steadily on the climb, a good majority of people have been affected by opiate addiction’s effects in one way or another.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, opiate-related overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999 with a death rate of 91 people per day from opiate overdose alone. Along with a handful of other initiatives, the 21st Century Cures Act seeks to invest resources into ensuring anyone who needs opiate addiction treatment can get it.
The question as to whether these efforts can stop opiate addiction will likely hinge on the degree of planning that goes into rooting out addiction and actually taking the steps to get it done.
What is the 21st Century Cures Act?
The 21st Century Cures Act, a piece of legislation approved by the U. S. Congress in December 2016, seeks to take steps towards eliminating some of the biggest health concerns this country faces. According to WhiteHouse.gov, the 21st Century Cures Act lays out five initiatives:
- Making opioid addiction treatment available and accessible to those who need it
- Investing in cancer research
- Investing in brain disorder research and personalized treatment care
- Mental health care reforms and suicide prevention programs
- Opening up the lines of communication between the FDA and consumers
In effect, the 21st Century Cures Act will allot $1 billion dollars in state grants to fight opiate abuse and fund ongoing opiate addiction research studies.
The Planning Process – Opiate Addiction Treatment Initiatives
Dealing with today’s opiate addiction epidemic will require a multi-pronged approach that meets the problem at the places where it tends to grow and thrive. This means identifying areas where rates of addiction can be reduced or stopped altogether.
According to the Committee on Energy Commerce, the 21st Century Cures Act lays out a comprehensive plan for improving government’s response to opiate addiction. Plan initiatives include the following:
- Creating new programs that provide alternatives to imprisonment for people struggling with substance abuse disorders
- Allotting $12.5 million for community crisis response systems to address substance abuse and mental disorders
- Expanding the federal drug court system, which is designed to treat those dealing with substance abuse problems
- Provide additional training for recovery support workforces in areas of drug prevention and treatment
- Integrating substance abuse and mental health treatment systems
While the 21st Century Care Act makes ample provisions for meeting community needs and filling treatment gaps, the future of the Affordable Care Act can present yet another roadblock to its effectiveness. If those who need help have no financial means to cover opiate addiction treatment costs, few will be able to benefit from the changes the 21st Century Care Act brings.
Getting It Done
Considering it took nearly three years for Congress to pass the 21st Century Cures Act, one must wonder how long it will take to put it into action. According to Georgetown University, the Act itself is nearly 1,000 pages in length and has few actual deadlines for completing the many initiatives contained in its pages.
This, coupled with the changes and growth that must take place within the Food & Drug Administration for the Act to be carried out means it will likely take more than a few years to actually implement this new piece of legislation.