Medications underutilized when treating young people with opioid use disorder

Only one in four young adults and teens with opioid use disorder (OUD) are receiving potentially life-saving medications for addiction treatment, according to a new Boston Medical Center (BMC) study published online in JAMA Pediatrics.

Buprenorphine and naltrexone are medications used to treat OUD that help prevent relapse and overdose when used appropriately. In late 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended, for the first time, that providers offer medication treatment to adolescents with OUD.

Prior studies have shown that among all adults in treatment for opioids, one-third started using opioids before age 18, and two-thirds started before age 25. Unlike methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone can be offered in the primary care setting. However, few teens receive medication due, in part, to a widespread shortage of physicians who have received a waiver certification required to prescribe buprenorphine. And, as researchers note, of all of the physicians who are certified in the United States, only one-percent are pediatricians.

Full story of treating young people with opioid use disorder at drugfree.org

Republican Proposed Medicaid Cuts Endanger Addiction Treatment: Experts

Cuts to Medicaid proposed by Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate jeopardize addiction treatment, NPR reports.

In Pennsylvania, more than 124,000 residents depend on Medicaid for addiction treatment. The state’s Medicaid program currently pays for addiction treatment with Vivitrol, a monthly injection that costs about $1,000 a dose. A person receiving the shots also has weekly therapy sessions and visits with a recovery coach, also paid for by Medicaid. Pennsylvania, which expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, pays no more than 10 percent of costs for patients who gained coverage under the expansion. The federal government funds the rest.

Full story of proposed Medicaid cuts and addiction treatment at drugfree.org

Advocates Aim to Protect Insurance Coverage for Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment advocates are trying to convince Republican legislators in states greatly impacted by the opioid epidemic to protect insurance coverage for substance abuse treatment if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed.

Repealing the ACA without having a plan in place to preserve coverage would weaken efforts to address the opioid crisis, according to Gary Mendell, founder of Shatterproof, a nonprofit that advocates for legislation to fight addiction. Shatterproof is working with the National Council for Behavioral Health, which represents 2,800 providers of mental health and addiction treatment, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Full story of advocates trying to protect coverage for addiction treatment at drugfree.org

Police Programs Focusing on Treatment Over Jail May Lose Support Under Trump

Police organizations promoting an approach to opioids that emphasizes treatment over jail are concerned the incoming Trump Administration may focus on prosecution rather than treatment, Scientific American reports.

So-called ANGEL programs, which started in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 2015, have been expanded to hundreds of police departments nationwide. The Obama Administration has supported the programs, the article notes.

Comments from Senator Jeff Sessions, the nominee for Attorney General, indicate the incoming administration may focus first on reducing the supply of illegal drugs coming in from Mexico.

Full story of opioid treatment programs in jail and Trump support at drugfree.org

Repeal of Obamacare Could Reduce Coverage for Addiction Treatment

People with addiction and mental health disorders and their treatment providers are worried that repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could reduce insurance coverage for these disorders, USA Today reports.

Almost 30 percent of people who received coverage through the ACA’s Medicaid expansion have a mental disorder or a substance use disorder, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Partially repealing ACA would do away with Medicaid expansion, and would most likely replace it with block grants that would require states to make cuts in what is covered, how much is spent and how many people can receive coverage.

Full story of Obamacare repeal and addiction treatment at drugfree.org