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President Signs Opioid Bill with DelBene Amendment

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) today praised President Obama for signing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which included her amendment scaling-up a successful Washington model to help individuals suffering from substance abuse.

“Opioid abuse is tearing apart families across the country, including in Washington state, and the legislation signed by the President today is an important first step in addressing this epidemic,” DelBene said. “Addiction is a disease, not a crime. That’s why I’m pleased my amendment was included to expand community-based programs – like Seattle’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) – that offer a helping hand rather than jail time for those suffering from substance abuse. However, our work is far from over. Congress must continue working to dedicate the resources necessary to fully address this crisis.”

When the legislation came before the House in May, DelBene amended it to allow state, local and tribal governments to implement community-based substance use diversion programs sponsored by a law enforcement agency, such as LEAD. Since LEAD started in 2011, criminal recidivism rates have been reduced among participants by as much as 60 percent, according to a University of Washington study. The final bill signed by the President also promotes programs to combat prescription opioid abuse and increase availability of Naloxone, a lifesaving drug used to treat overdose.

Opioids kill 78 Americans every day. Since 2000, drug overdose deaths have increased by 137 percent.