Congressman Introduces Legislation to Treat Methamphetamine Abuse

Congressman Introduces Legislation to Treat Methamphetamine Abuse

U.S. Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-Missouri) introduced a new bill proposal on Wednesday, July 7, that will help increase accessible treatment for methamphetamine abuse while reducing crime attributed to the substance. The plague of methamphetamine use has spread to all areas of the U.S.–from rural to urban neighborhoods and from west coast to east coast–and Congress is now deciding to take action to combat the epidemic.

Congressman Carnahan says methamphetamine abuse is the root of multiple problems in Missouri’s communities and the U.S. population at large. The bill, called “Universal Access to Methamphetamine Treatment Act,” proposes to improve public safety and reduce crime by making treatment for methamphetamine abuse more available across the country, encourage alternative resolutions to harsh punishments currently in place for nonviolent methamphetamine-related crimes in an effort to keep families in tact, and expand research on methamphetamine addiction, prevention, and treatment.

When introducing the new legislation, the Missouri congressman pointed out that his state was home to the highest crime rates directly related to methamphetamine use in the U.S. today, including discoveries of meth labs and meth production. Carnahan also referred to the surge of criminal activity in the greater St. Louis area that has indirectly been caused by methamphetamine, including auto theft, identity theft, domestic violence, and child abuse and neglect. Methamphetamine abuse and distribution is significantly different from other street drugs in that the substance’s ingredients can easily be obtained from over-the-counter medications and can be homemade in clandestine laboratories. Secondly, because methamphetamine is a highly potent psychostimulant, it also has a great potential for addiction and widespread use. Without enough prevention, intervention, and treatment resources currently in place, methamphetamine abuse has negatively impacted millions of families, job productivity, the economy, and has flooded the country’s state and federal prison systems.

If passed, the Universal Access to Methamphetamine Treatment Act could radically increase the proportion of treatment centers to those who need it most–including underserved populations like minorities, the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender community, and Native American tribes–expand funding for methamphetamine research on treatment and prevention strategies, and employ more treatment professionals and counselors. In order to secure more structured supervision of court-ordered substance abuse counseling, the proposed treatment programs would also encompass medical, dental, and mental health services as well as child care, parenting classes, and job training. Perhaps most significantly, the bill would also fund research on possible pharmaceutical drug replacement therapies, much like those already in existence for nicotine and heroin addiction. If the bill does see passage, the U.S. will experience a dramatic change in criminal reformation and mental health care.

The ultimate goal is to sever the problem at the source: the demand for methamphetamine. The legislation hopes to prevent crime and threats to public safety by reaching those using methamphetamine before it’s too late. Multiple studies have shown that recovery and aftercare are much more affordable and beneficial to society than increasing law enforcement and crowding the justice system. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), over 10 million Americans have tried methamphetamine during their lifetime, and 1.3 million have used the substance in the past year.

After Congressman Carnahan introduced the proposed bill before his district’s community, the St. Louis Police Department made a statement to the media agreeing with Carnahan’s proposal, believing that more legislation on methamphetamine treatment would help protect families by aiding those with methamphetamine addictions.

The Democratic congressman collaborated with Republican Congressman George Radanovich of California to create this  bipartisan legislation that is geared toward reaching those most affected by methamphetamine use and related crimes.

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