(BOSTON)– On August 9, 2018, An Act for prevention and access to appropriate care and treatment of addiction, was signed into law. The CARE Act includes initiatives to promote behavioral health and prevent substance use disorders, strengthen the behavioral health system, and enhance options for substance use treatment and recovery across the Commonwealth.

The CARE Act promotes substance misuse prevention through the creation of a Community-Based Behavioral Health Promotion and Prevention Trust Fund to support evidence-based and evidence-informed programs for children and young adults. The CARE Act expands access to non-opioid treatment options for pain management, and looks to strengthen consumer protection laws. The CARE Act will bolster the behavioral health system by expanding access to medication-assisted treatment, and updating licensing authority for substance use treatment facilities, ensuring that patients are getting quality care. The CARE Act establishes a state-wide standing order for Naloxone, also known as Narcan, allowing anyone to purchase it without a prescription.

The Massachusetts fiscal year 2019 budget also included measures to fight the opioid epidemic, notably the following line items:

  • $142 million for the Bureau of Substance Addition Services to create five recovery centers in Massachusetts.
  • $5 million to support community-based treatment program.
  • $4.9 million for step-down recovery services.
  • $1 million to provide increased access to Narcan to first responders.

“Crafting thoughtful solutions to the opioid epidemic is imperative to addressing this ongoing public health crisis,” said Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull). “The Massachusetts Legislature took the next necessary steps by supporting community-based prevention and treatment.”

The opioid epidemic has deeply affected Massachusetts. In 2016, there were 1,821 opioid-related overdose deaths in the state. By way of comparison, the rate of opioid-related deaths in our state was 29.7 deaths per 100,000 persons, which is more than twice the rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons nationwide. The CARE Act is an important piece of the Massachusetts Legislature’s greater commitment to combatting this epidemic through comprehensive prevention strategies and increased quality of and access to treatment.