Lawmakers are increasingly applying the principle of evidence-based legislation when developing laws that address various public health issues. Evidence-based legislation involves the formulation and writing of various laws based on scientific evidence that is available on the issue being legislated upon (Milstead & Short, 2019). A recent law that followed this principle is the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016. Signed into law in July 2016, the law seeks to address the opioid crisis by authorizing multiple treatment and prevention programs for the condition.
The opioid pandemic, which the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act seeks to address, has been a significant problem in the USA since the late 1990s. At the time of its passing, approximately fifty thousand Americans died each year from overdosing on opioid drugs acquired either illegally or through medical prescriptions (Bone et al., 2018). Without addressing the issue effectively, there was a risk of a continued increase in the number of deaths.
In addressing the crisis, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act used the best available scientific evidence to support its recommendations. For instance, the legislation requires an increase in education programs that spread awareness of the dangers of using opioid drugs to senior populations, parents, caretakers, and teenagers. This requirement is supported by scientific evidence which has found that increasing awareness of the dangers of opioid drugs reduces their usage (Kahn et al., 2019). The legislation also requires criminal justice representatives to identify individuals in prisons who are addicted to opioid drugs and seek evidence-based treatment for them. This requirement is also backed by scientific evidence that shows that prisons are among the hardest hit institutions by the opioid crisis (Bone et al., 2018).
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act is, therefore, legislation that is based on scientific evidence. Its requirements are simply implementations of findings from various scientific studies.
Bone, C., Eysenbach, L., Bell, K., & Barry, D. T. (2018). Our Ethical Obligation to Treat Opioid Use Disorder in Prisons: A Patient and Physician’s Perspective. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 46(2), 268-271.
Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016. Retrieved on 8th April 2020 from https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/524/text?overview=closed
Kahn, N., Chappell, K., Regnier, K., Travlos, D. V., & Auth, D. (2019). A Collaboration Between Government and the Continuing Education Community Tackles the Opioid Crisis: Lessons Learned and Future Opportunities. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, 39(1), 58-63.
Milstead, J. & Short, N. (2019). Health policy and politics: A nurse’s guide (6th edition). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning