“As a member of the Coalition to Stop Opioid Overdose, the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) supports all meaningful efforts to reduce and prevent opioid addiction. We see the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), signed on Friday by President Obama, as a good start, but this law falls far short of what is really needed.
“The new law underscores the fact that opioid addiction is a disease, not a crime, and that we must treat people suffering from this disease accordingly. It also increases access to medication- assisted treatment and to the overdose antidote naloxone, funds drug courts, and gives states incentives to improve prescription drug monitoring programs and adopt comprehensive substance abuse plans. Unfortunately, the funding falls far short of what’s needed to fully implement that work.
“So, while we are encouraged that steps are being taken in the right direction, we strongly urge Congress to go further to address this public health crisis by increasing funding to fight opioid addiction.
“Congress should also expand the types of health care providers, like clinical nurse specialists, who can prescribe medication-assisted treatment. Clinical nurse specialists have the same education and training as other advance practice registered nurses. Allowing CNSs to practice to the full scope of their education and training will not only increase the pool of qualified health professionals but also improve access to care.”
Sharon Horner, PhD, RN, MC-CNS, FAAN is the President of the 2016-2017 NACNS Board of Directors.