Opioid use disorder is not generation specific. Young people and mature adults alike have been touched by the American opioid addiction epidemic, with upwards of 2 million Americans in the grip of opioid addiction, nearly 100 overdose deaths and scores of overdose reversals every day. The scourge is dire to say the least, and yet many Americans do not have access to addiction treatment. This is not just a trend with addiction, the clear majority of people living with any form of mental illness never get the help they need for several reasons.
A shortage of treatment facilities. Long waits to get into the extant programs. Insurance companies are reluctant to cover the length of stay in treatment considered to be the most effective. The list could easily be added to, but finding solutions is what we should be focused on.
Curbing the Opioid Addiction Epidemic
In recent years, the public has demanded that lawmakers address this most serious issue. To which they responded with passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) last year, authorizing the U.S. Attorneys General to award grants for addressing the opioid epidemic. One of the bill’s many facets includes channeling millions of dollars for the expansion of addiction treatment services.
The important piece of legislation was followed by another bill’s passing, the 21st Century Cures Act which authorized over $1 billion for health innovation. Wrapped up in the bill, among other things, were provisions to strengthen mental health parity regulation and increase funding for expanding access to addiction treatment.
The White House is providing $485 million in grant money for states to be used for addiction treatment and prevention, keeping promises made last year with the passing of the Cures Act, the Associated Press reports. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price made the announcement at a drug prevention summit in Atlanta on Wednesday, and said that another half-billion dollars in state grants will be meted out next year. An HHS news release, states:
“Funding will support a comprehensive array of prevention, treatment, and recovery services depending on the needs of recipients. States and territories were awarded funds based on rates of overdose deaths and unmet need for opioid addiction treatment.”
In addition to expanding access to treatment in the states hardest hit by the epidemic, the funds can be used for:
- Training Health Professionals
- New technology and Support for Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs)
- Promote and Expanding Access to Naloxone
Secretary Tom Price would like to go back to the beginning, to the root of the American opioid addiction epidemic to find ways to curb the crisis, according to the article. He acknowledges that physicians have had a hand in the problem the country faces. Price is going to review items like payments and prescribing guidelines, to make sure, “that we are not pushing doctors toward quick fixes that risk lives.”
“There is no question that this overreach helped create the problem we have today, and that ending this epidemic requires going back to its roots.”
The best prospect that people struggling with opioid addiction have at recovery is enlisting the help of an addiction treatment center. After detoxification, long-term residential treatment gives people the tools to live a fulfilling life in recovery. If you are battling with and opioid use disorder, please contact Synergy Group Services. We utilize the benefits of traditional counseling in conjunction alternative medicine to achieve a synergistic outcome.
At this point, now in the seventeenth year of the most insidious drug epidemic the world has ever seen, many Americans are starting to think that the crisis may never be curtailed. It is a shared feeling, despite the fact that we know what is needed, greater access to addiction treatment. To be sure, there are thousands of addiction treatment facilities throughout the country, centers helping people break the cycle of addiction 365 days a year. Yet there are many Americans who need treatment the most, that are unable to access such programs. Those who do have a shot at getting a bed often have to wait well over a month for it, and in a number of cases that is dangerously long given the deadly nature of opioids.
Realizing that Americans are being forced to wait needlessly for treatment, there has been a huge push within the Federal government to increase funding for addiction treatment services throughout the country. It was a push that resulted in the passing of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA), a bill specifically designed to combat the American opioid epidemic, including provisions for:
- Expanding Access to Treatment
- Increasing Access to Naloxone
- Distributing Clean Needles
- Education and Prevention Efforts
Unfortunately, there may not be enough funding to ensure that all the aforementioned initiatives are achieved. CARA was widely hailed as a perfect example of bipartisan governing, yet if it fails to accomplish what it was designed for then it is irrelevant. However, there may be hope yet for millions of Americans who are in need of treatment.
Congress approved the 21st Century Cures Act, new legislation that could channel $1 billion in new funding over the next two years for opioid addiction prevention and treatment programs, USA Today reports. On top of that, the Cures Act could fortify existing mental health parity laws, forcing insurers to cover mental illness the same way they would any other health condition.
“For far too long Americans suffering with mental illness have been stigmatized and left in the shadows,” said Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla. “This bill helps stop Americans from falling through the cracks.”
Click here to watch a short video on the subject.
The first quarter of 2016 has shown a lot of promise so far with regard to combating the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic in the United States. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle can basically all agree that proactive measures are needed to limit prescribing practices and expand access to substance use disorder treatment. On top of that, efforts are underway to make it easier for addicts and their family to acquire the life saving opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone. If the drug is administered in timely manner, the drug can counter the symptoms of an opioid overdose.
If you have been following the news, you may be aware the Northeast has been hit hard by the opioid crisis. In response, the Massachusetts House unanimously passed a comprehensive bill for addressing opioid addiction, MassLive reports. The legislation would impose a limit on a doctor prescribing opioids, as well as a requirement that a mental health professional conduct a substance abuse evaluation to opioid overdose victims within 24 hours before they are discharged.
“We are in the midst of a public health crisis that is draining vitality from our hometowns, extinguishing lives and stealing souls,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, in a statement. “The House has crafted legislation and budgets that complement each other and set a foundation for continual improvement.”
A number of states are considering similar legislation aimed at tackling the problem. On top of that, the Federal government is attempting to tow the line as well. Last week, the Senate unanimously passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which authorizes the U.S. Attorneys General to award grants for addressing the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic. The following day, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy announced plans from the White House to spend nearly $100 million to expand addiction treatment services.
All the legislation in the works is a clear sign that lawmakers understand that we, as a nation, cannot arrest our way out of this epidemic. What’s needed is greater access to addiction treatment services, especially the way things are currently. In some parts of the country, addicts can wait as long as a month to receive a bed at a treatment center – especially in rural America.
If you are currently struggling with prescription opioid and/or heroin addiction, please contact Synergy Group Services. We can give you the tools necessary for living a life free from drugs and alcohol.