The opioid epidemic is in the national spotlight, and legislative action has been requested to help stop opioid abuse. But with a wave of new bills hitting both the House and the Senate, addiction researchers are asking a very important question: Which bills will actually help?


The New York Times reports the legislative effort has some very valuable ideas on how to curb an epidemic that claimed 42,000 lives in 2016. Over 50 bills on the topic have hit both the House and Senate floors.

“Some of the bills authorize actions that all involved agree would help ease the epidemic, such as increasing access to treatment or allowing doctors to more easily identify patients who are shopping for multiple prescriptions,”The New York Times reports.

Others less directly address the unique needs of those affected by the epidemic, such as the “Synthetic Drug Awareness Act” that calls for a study of synthetic drugs. Addiction researchers are concerned that the measures like this would have less impact than their preferred evidence-based strategies to expand treatment.

“Experts who reviewed the package of legislation said there were several bills that could make a difference in helping prevent people from becoming addicted to opioid medications, and a few that could help those already struggling with addiction to get treatment. There are also some long-term investments in pain research that could pay off, though not for the currently afflicted: Both the House and Senate legislation would direct the National Institutes of Health to invest more in studying pain treatments that are not addictive.”

Since addiction treatment is not the primary focus of most of the bills, there are concerns that the short-term help available will not be enough. While long-term investments are needed, experts recommend prioritizing addiction treatment to help those currently suffering.

In North Carolina, two new opioid bills were introduced this year. The Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Enforcement (HOPE) Act gives law enforcement expanded access to the Controlled Substance Reporting System (CSRS), a database of people who are prescribed opioids. However, advocates worry that it could promote overreach into the privacy of patients and those in recovery. The Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention (STOP) Act limits opioid prescriptions to five days for first-time patients with short-term pain, or seven days if the patient had surgery. The HOPE Act is seen as part two of the STOP Act. In addition to tracking opioid prescriptions, the HOPE Act comes with a harsher penalty for healthcare workers who are caught stealing or switching a patient’s medication.

The issue remains bipartisan, as the crisis has affected the entire nation.

“The volume of legislation reflects the desire of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to show that they can take action on a growing public health crisis that has touched Americans across the country and in every social class,”The New York Times shares. Some lawmakers are hopeful that any issues that have failed to be addressed in the current round of legislation will be corrected in the future.

“While these bills are not our first efforts in this fight, you have my word they will not be our last either,” said Representative Greg Walden of Oregon in the news conference. “We know there will be more work to do, even after these become law.”

Congress has set up a website to help keep track of bills that have been introduced and passed. Since this story is ever changing, to see the latest updates. For more information on this story, visit The New York Times.

Do you think that this is a good start in battling the opioid crisis? Should further legislation be introduced? Let us know what you think on our Facebook page or in the comments below.

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