Tucked away in legislation passed to keep the federal government running is critical funding for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, or CARA. The AHA supported several measures in CARA, including:


  • The creation of a multi-agency task force that includes a hospital representative to develop best practices for prescribing and pain management.
  • More stringent pre-market review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of new opioids.
  • Increased access to opioid overdose reversal drugs for first responders and others.
  • Greater availability of medication-assisted treatment.
  • Expanded research and treatment for vulnerable populations, including infants, pregnant and postpartum women, and veterans.


The AHA is pleased this important step has been taken to tackle the important public health issue of opioid abuse. Substance abuse and addiction can exacerbate existing mental illness.  That’s why hospitals across the country are addressing both as part of behavioral health care:


  • Blount Memorial Hospital in Maryville, Tenn., partners with the Blount County Substance Abuse Prevention Action Team, community leaders, law enforcement, schools, the courts, businesses, parents and others to reduce substance abuse and educate all ages about health risks associated with substance use.
  • Beaumont Health, Michigan's largest health care system, provides a School Wellness Program at Harry S. Truman High School in Dearborn, Mich. The program provides nursing services, mental health crisis counseling and substance abuse prevention education sessions. Years of data underscore the need for health, wellness and prevention programming in the community, which is disproportionately affected by poverty, crime, violence and substance abuse. The goal of the wellness program is to affect health, attitudes, behaviors and coping skills necessary to make healthy choices and thrive.
  • Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, has a Community Navigator who patrols – on foot – the .25-mile radius surrounding the medical center and builds relationships with the local homeless and transient population, eventually connecting them with housing, community resources, transportation and substance abuse treatment, primary and mental health care as needed.


These are just a few of the many examples of America’s hospitals and health care systems ensuring that people suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues get the care they need.