CARA Legislation on the Move

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BREAKING NEWS FROM WASHINGTON D.C. – CARA is on the move!

The Senate voted 95-1 to send the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) to conference with the House, in an effort to send a final bill to the president’s desk before Congress recesses in mid-July. (Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) voted against the motion.)

CARA’s sponsors, Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), are not among the Senate’s conferees, but Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) will serve on the conference committee, along with 35 House members (see list below).

CARA co-sponsor Sen. Portman has been critical of the House’s package (which focuses almost solely on the opioid epidemic), saying the Senate bill is more comprehensive. Recovery advocates have also shown a preference for CARA because it prioritizes prevention efforts and includes provisions that address recovery programs. In a statement, Sen. Portman said:

“I’m pleased that CARA is the position of the Senate as we move into this conference discussion[.] My staff and I have been working very closely with our conferees, Senator Whitehouse, and other members to help find common ground between the two chambers.”

Unfortunately, no Minnesota legislators are members of the CARA Conference Committee. Nonetheless, our elected officials need to hear our stories. In order to ensure that the final bill presents a comprehensive approach to addiction, Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR) is asking constituents to take action today. Tell FAVOR why CARA and a comprehensive approach to this public health crisis is so critical.

Republican Conferees:

  • Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California
  • Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan
  • Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia
  • Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin
  • Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas
  • Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania
  • Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia
  • Rep. Dave Trott of Michigan
  • Rep. Mike Bishop of Michigan
  • Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania
  • Rep. Leonard Lance of New Jersey
  • Rep. Brett Guthrie of Kentucky
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois
  • Rep. Larry Bucshon of Indiana
  • Rep. Susan W. Brooks of Indiana
  • Rep. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania
  • Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter of Georgia
  • Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Florida
  • Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana
  • Rep. Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania
  • Rep. Robert J. Dold of Illinois

Democratic Conferees:

  • Energy and Commerce ranking member Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey,
  • Judiciary ranking member John Conyers Jr. of Michigan
  • Education and Workforce ranking member Robert C. Scott of Virginia
  • Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington
  • Rep. Gene Green of Texas
  • Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas
  • Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut
  • Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee
  • Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland
  • Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico
  • Rep. Judy Chu of California
  • Rep. Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut
  • Rep. Ann McLane Kuster of New Hampshire
  • Rep. Raul Ruiz of California

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Minnesota Recovery Connection

Authentic Connection vs. Shame

Authentic Connection vs. Shame
by Tyler Reitzner

There was a point in my active addiction that I had to be hospitalized to detox and stabilize. My drinking was causing significant damage to my liver and pancreas as well as spiking my blood pleasure to dangerous levels.  Spitting up blood was a daily routine. I spent six days in the hospital with doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists telling me “you can’t drink anymore or you will die” and I knew they were right.

When I was released I was optimistic about changing and was laughing with the staff as they discharged me but by the time they wheeled me to the lobby my mind was starting to race. I realized that I would be going back to my home, alone, sitting with myself. I took a cab home and halfway through the trip I had the driver stop at a liquor store. I was back in the hospital five days later.

Shame almost killed me, not alcohol. My drinking didn’t cause the shame; it was the best way that I had to deal with the shame. The feeling was crippling at times. It wasn’t the shame of being an alcoholic that kept me from getting help; it was the shame of being me, and not feeling worth it.

My shame is the brick wall at the core of my soul built of old wounds that tell me I am not good enough. It made the self-destructive lifestyle that comes with alcoholism feel comfortable and necessary. I felt isolated and worthless, to the point that alcohol became the only relationship that I felt comfortable with and I needed to connect with something.

Over 7 years later, I am in long-term recovery from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Substance Use Disorder (SUD). I have focused on being myself, present, growing, and engaging in the relationships in my life. This is how I define authentic connection and it’s what broke down my shame wall and helped me feel worth living, even with imperfections.

The process started for me even back when I was in the hospital still in my active SUD. I had felt safe and taken care of while there. The staff treated me like a human and not a defective person. While I was in the hospital I felt sincere hope. When I left and lost that safe connection I felt the shame wall build back up and tell me I am not enough. Although, I did drink again, that feeling of hope stuck with me, and deep down I knew that I could connect to something other than alcohol. The recovery community became that connection for me. Authentic connection was the dynamite that started to blast apart the shame wall and lead to better relationships with my family who became a part of my community. However, the work didn’t stop there.

“You have to let us love you until you love yourself”, every defense mechanism I had kicked in the first time I heard that. That concept sounded terrifying to me because it meant that I had to learn to sit down, look myself in the eye and say I love you, Tyler, and you are worth that love. The love of my community made it safe to do that, and I now feel like I belong.

My oldest son and I recently had a discussion around recovery that validated my experience. We were discussing recovery and what it has meant to us and he made the following statement “I got to see you as you, and not the drunk you”.

Related Books for this topic by Dr. Brené Brown: Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong.  

Tyler Reitzner is a Patient Leader, Speaker and Behavioral Health Advocate. He lives with his wife and two boys in Minnesota.

Board Member: MN Trauma Project http://www.mntraumaproject.org/

Board Member: Minnesota Recovery Connection https://minnesotarecovery.org/

Director of Marketing and Outreach: FRrē, Family Recovery Resource Experts https://frre.net/

Coming this October! Podcast series and website, Strength in Brokenness, with Tyler and Dr. Ryan Van Wyk.

Historic CARA Legislation Passes House

diagramOn Friday, July 8, 2016, the United States House of Representatives almost unanimously approved the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA). The 407-5 vote bodes well for the bill’s passage in the Senate, after which CARA will land on President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

CARA includes policies and grant programs affecting prevention, law enforcement, addiction treatment and recovery support.

The implementation of CARA will:

  • Raise prescriber awareness through education about the danger of opioids;
  • Increase access to medication assisted treatment (MAT) for those with substance use disorder by increasing prescriber patient limits;
  • Expand first responder naloxone training programs and prescription drug take back initiatives, as well as general addiction treatment and prevention education, training and awareness campaigns;
  • Fund a comprehensive report on the reality of recovery in America and the collateral consequences of addiction;
  • Offer demonstration grants for states to provide a comprehensive response to opioid abuse; and
  • Provide grant funding for veteran treatment courts, treatment for pregnant and postpartum women, and recovery support services through recovery community organizations (that’s us – Minnesota Recovery Connection).

CARA’s financial commitment to expand recovery support services is modest – $5 million over 5 years – but overall CARA is a huge victory for recovery. CARA is an important step toward healthcare parity and a promising development that will further our efforts to end discrimination against those diagnosed with substance use disorder.

Please take a moment to thank your representatives for moving CARA forward.

Thank your representatives for voting YES on CARA.

Tweet your members of Congress #thankyou for voting YES on #CARA.

Minnesota Recovery Connection

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