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"The law is the public conscience." - Thomas Hobbes

Opioid dependence, associated drug-related overdose and deaths is a serious public health problem in the U.S. With the intention of creating uniformity and accountability, legislative/regulatory solutions are being applied at both the state and federal levels in addressing this epidemic. Recognizing it is a multifaceted problem has resulted in a variety of approaches, including but not limited to:

  • Require prescriber education both in treating of opioid overdose as well as alternatives to opioids for pain management.
  • Increase effective provider use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) and across state border collaboration.
  • Regulate pain management clinics.
  • Expand access to naloxone, a drug used to reverse overdose (ie, first responders, family, schools etc) with Good Samaritan protections.
  • Remove barriers that limit non physician providers from providing medication assisted treatment – MAT(ability to prescribe buprenorphine).
  • Expand drug take back programs.
  • Fund support treatment and education/prevention measures.
  • Create pretrial diversion options, including drug courts that help those with substance abuse issues get treatment in lieu of incarceration, along with lower penalties.

Over the past year, lawmakers have sought to address the crisis comprehensively by advancing bills that would expand access to the overdose antidote naloxone, reduce the prevalence of unused pain pills, expand prevention education, and increase collaboration with law enforcement and local criminal justice systems:

  • Expanding access to medication-assisted treatments (MATs) has also been a central component of the reform effort.
  • ANA has successfully made the case for a much needed expansion of medication-assisted treatment services. In both the House and Senate legislation is poised to expand access treatment by allowing Nurse Practitioners to prescribe buprenorphine in accordance with state law.
  • Key bills in the House and Senate, the Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Expansion and Modernization Act (H.R.4981) and the Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act (TREAT Act, S.1455), would improve treatment options by harnessing the benefits of buprenorphine, and expanding prescribing authority to Nurse Practitioners, in accordance with state law.
  • Both bills will be included in negotiations between the House and Senate alongside a package of additional bipartisan bills.

To learn more about state actions or plans, go to: www.ncsl.org.