The opioid epidemic has been a hot topic in the news in recent months, and it comes as no surprise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 28,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2014 and more than 10,500 people died from heroin overdoses. This is a serious problem that lawmakers, healthcare providers, and families are struggling to address.
There has been a stronger push to improve drug take-back programs, increase prescription drug monitoring, enhance education regarding addiction, and expand access to affordable and effective treatment at drug rehab facilities. President Obama has made drug addiction a top priority during his two terms in office, most recently pushing for $1.1 billion in funding. This is a huge investment, but one that lawmakers are hoping will make a positive difference.
But how will the $1.1 billion be used?
- Medication-Assisted Treatment
This will account for a large portion of funding – $920 million to be more precise. Medication-assisted treatment involves using approved drugs such as methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction in combination with psychosocial therapy. These medications can work in a few ways. Some block opioid receptors and keep people from feeling the euphoric or sedative effects of opioids. Even if they take the prescription drugs or heroin, they will not experience the high they seek. Other medications also interact with opioid receptors but trick the brain into thinking that it is getting the addictive drug – even though it’s not – to curb withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
These medications can be effective in supporting clients in recovery by reducing the impact of addictive drugs on their system and helping to prevent relapse following detox. Some clients use these medications for a short time, while others stay on them for months or even years as a type of maintenance and management program for their addiction recovery.
To further enhance results, therapy is also provided in conjunction with medication. This allows clients to work through underlying issues that have contributed to their drug addiction. It supports improved mental health and promotes more positive thought patterns and healthier behaviors. Recovery is about more than abstaining from drug use – it always requires lifestyle changes to prevent relapse. Evidence-based therapies and holistic approaches to treatment can provide more comprehensive care for clients and enhance their recovery efforts.
- Addiction Treatment Providers
Another $50 million in funding will go toward improving access to addiction treatment, especially in areas of the country where it is most needed. Not all communities receive the level of behavioral healthcare necessary to support addiction recovery and prevention. The funding will be used to increase services and expand medication-assisted treatment options to more locations. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services has proposed a rule that would increase the number of patients physicians who are authorized to prescribe buprenorphine can treat to 200. It is estimated that this would improve access for tens of thousands of people who might otherwise not get this medication due to current limits. Not every physician is licensed to prescribe these types of drugs.
- Improved Treatment Options
Another $30 million would go toward researching existing treatment programs using medication-assisted treatment to evaluate their effectiveness and developing improvements. Every program works slightly differently, so researchers want to examine what is working in real-time and how they can support programs in becoming more effective. This could greatly benefit clients undergoing treatment for prescription opioid addiction or heroin addiction by improving the care they receive and further supporting long-term recovery.
There are other initiatives taking place as well such as improving education and training for physicians regarding substance use disorders and addiction treatment. Current training only accounts for a fraction of their overall education, so there is push to expand this and increase their understanding and involvement in addressing this serious issue.
Expanding the availability of Narcan (naloxone) is another major initiative. More paramedics, firefighters, police officers, healthcare personnel, and families are carrying this life-saving drug. Naloxone can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose saving a person’s life until they can get medical care. Some schools, universities, and other organizations have also begun keeping naloxone on hand just in case. It has saved many lives already since becoming more widely available.
These are just a few of the changes taking place as a way to help combat the opioid epidemic. Chapters Capistrano offers medication-assisted treatment and a variety of therapeutic approaches to help clients overcome addiction and achieve long-term recovery. Comprehensive treatment plans are customized to each client’s individual needs and align with best practices within the industry. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, make your recovery a priority by contacting Chapters Capistrano today. It’s not too late to turn your life around.