Post-Election Recap: What New Drug Laws Mean for Addiction and Recovery
The 2014 midterm elections saw many drug-related ballot measures, from recreational use of marijuana to reducing criminal penalties of possession.
Drug and alcohol addiction is one of the biggest challenges facing America today, and the problem is getting worse. In October 2017, President Trump declared the Opioid Crisis a “Public Health Emergency,” but he is not the only politician who has decided to use the influence of public office to take action in the fight against addiction. Within the last several weeks, several other prominent politicians have taken action of their own.
On Tuesday, February 13, 2018, Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared addiction a public health crisis in the state. At the same time, Governor Brown also announced a new executive order for Oregon’s Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission. The order requires the Commission to develop a plan that lays out steps for state agencies to take to battle the addiction epidemic. The Commission must meet deadlines as early as September.
Governor Brown has also requested that the Oregon Legislature pass legislation designed to fight the growing opioid epidemic, which is responsible for the majority of overdose deaths in the state and nationwide. The law tackles the problem from multiple angles, requiring the state to study how to improve treatment access for drug addicts and mandating that doctors register with an Oregon-wide prescription-monitoring system. The bill is currently moving through the Oregon Legislature, but it is widely expected to pass. The legislation has widespread bi-partisan support, and so many people wanted to testify in favor that leaders had to cut some off to make sure the committee working on the bill stayed on schedule.
Rehabs are still open!
Politicians on the direct opposite side of the country are getting involved with this truly national problem as well. On February 6, 2018 Senator Marco Rubio of Florida asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions and two federal agencies help combat the problem of disreputable treatment centers. He wants the Department of Justice to develop a strategy to investigate centers that abuse the system, specifically those that take bribes and make false statements to take advantage of government health care plans.
Senator Rubio wants to put an end to the, “Florida Shuffle,” a system of disreputable rehab facilities that operate in South Florida that don’t actually provide treatment but instead scam treatment seekers and the Federal Government. Millions of dollars that was meant to aid those members of society who are most in need of assistance has been lost to fraud.
These facilities not only conduct criminal activities, but they are also damaging the good name of the many top-rated and excellent treatment centers found in South Florida. The negative press surrounding recent high-profile arrests and news reports detailing this abuse has given millions of Americans a negative view of treatment and addicts in need of treatment an additional excuse to not attend. This has made it even less likely for many to get the treatment that they so desperately need, and for the government to turn the tide in the addiction epidemic. Hopefully, Senator Rubio’s request will be answered, and more action will be taken.
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