The Combating Meth and Cocaine Act would re-authorize the State Opioid Response Grant program, under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, to distribute up to $500 million in annual funding to combat opioid use disorders over the next five years. Importantly, this bill would permit states to use some of these funds to combat the rising cocaine and methamphetamine crises in the United States, which is not currently allowed under the State Opioid Response Grant program. The purpose of this bill is to give state programs a stable source of funding to combat the opioid crisis, as well as the flexibility to address the increasing abuse of methamphetamine and cocaine, which may be contaminated by opioids.
These grant funds can be used for a variety of efforts addressing opioid abuse, such as education, treatment, behavioral therapy, referral to treatment services, recovery support, and diagnosis. This bill would allow grant funding to go towards similarly-themed programs targeting the abuse of psychostimulants, like cocaine and methamphetamine.
While the rates of abuse and death from opioid use disorders have decreased in response to federal and state measures to decrease opioid addiction and overdoses, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) has stated that other illicit drugs, mainly cocaine and crystal meth, are filling in the gaps left behind by opioids. Furthermore, there is a growing problem of methamphetamine and cocaine being contaminated with fentanyl, a potent and often lethal opioid that is responsible for up to half of all deaths in the recent opioid crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, synthetic opioids like fentanyl were involved in almost 75% of cocaine overdose deaths from 2015 to 2016. The number of opioid users who also use methamphetamine doubled from 2010 to 2017 (from 11% to 34% of opioid users), partially because methamphetamine serves as a cheap alternative to heroin.