Substance Use Disorders

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Making addiction treatment work for inmates

AS A PHYSICIAN, who treats and supports individuals battling substance abuse, I try to be available when the call for help comes, especially from those involved with the criminal justice system.

The call for help from John, a former inmate who has struggled with addiction and cycled in and out of prison, arrived via text from an unrecognized number. He went MIA awhile back, after being a no-show for buprenorphine to treat his addiction to heroin.

“I need your help.”

One Hundred and Two Years Later: The U.S. path to the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act

How long does it take for a paradigm shift to become policy? For the United States, it took 102 years to change our ideas around substance abuse and pass the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA). In 1914, the federal government enacted the Harrison Narcotic Control Act, the first comprehensive legislation to address substance use and abuse in our country.  It was a pivotal act, as it addressed what we now know is a disease, as criminal acts.