Increase Insurance Coverage for Addiction to Lower Risk of Opioid Deaths
Patients who are living with an opioid addiction and want to get help shouldn’t be denied access to treatment by their health insurance providers. This statement was one of the new policy recommendations co-authored by Professor Claudio Nigg, from the Office of Public Health Studies, University of Hawaii at Mānoa.
Lack of Full Coverage for Addiction Treatment a Barrier
The most likely reason people who want, but don’t get, addiction treatment is that government and private insurance policies don’t cover the cost of getting help, according to a statement posted June 27, 2018, on the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s website.
Professor Nigg explained, “To fight the opioid addiction epidemic that is ravaging the US today, policymakers need to increase Medicaid funding for addiction treatment and declare the opioid epidemic to be a national emergency, and not just a public health emergency.”
On a typical day in the United States, 3,900 people start taking a prescription opioid medication for non-medical reasons. Dozens of people die each day from an opioid overdose. In 2016, 77 people died from an opioid overdose in Hawaii, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Medication-Based Treatment for Opioid Addiction
Research has shown that medication-based treatment (MAT) is one approach for clients living with opioid addiction. It includes two components.
First, clients take medication to decrease cravings for drugs (such as oxycodone, morphine and heroin). They also attend behavioral modification therapy (“talk therapy”), which helps them change their thinking and actions.
Funding for Counseling Needed Along with Medications
Professor Nigg points out that while many insurance programs will pay for the medication, getting funding for counseling is much more difficult. He points out that people need the talk therapy, not just the medications to be treated properly for their addiction.
Nigg is an expert in the behavioral health science field. He has studied theories of behavioral change throughout his career and has conducted research on the motivations for people to take part in healthier living strategies.
How to End the Opioid Crisis – Opioid Addiction Treatment Arizona
According to the CDC, more than 33,000 people died from opioid overdoses in the United States in 2015. Every year, the steadily worsening opioid epidemic poses an economic burden of more than $78.5 billion, which includes costs that are associated with criminal justice activity, health care, addiction treatment and lost productivity. Oftentimes it feels like little or nothing is being done about it. However, many people have ideas about how to end the opioid crisis. The question is which of these proposed solutions will actually put a dent in the problem. Desert Cove Recovery, opioid addiction treatment in Arizona, takes a look at how to end the opioid crisis.
How Did We Get To the Opioid Crisis?
Starting around the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies looking to peddle opioid painkillers assured the medical community that they wouldn’t lead to widespread addiction. We now know how wrong they were, of course; in no time, as opioids flooded the market, they became increasingly diverted away from people who were legally prescribed them, and misuse became rampant and widespread. When efforts were made to curb their availability, many people simply switched over to illegal drugs like heroin. In 2018, an average of 115 people die from an opioid overdose in this country every day. Read on to learn about some of the ideas for putting an end to the opioid crisis. Continued after video:
Education about Addiction
Turning a blind eye to a problem is a surefire way to cause it spiral even more out of control, so education could very well be the key to curbing the opioid crisis. The primary goal of education would be to limit the spread of the epidemic by raising awareness about the risks of using opioids. This education should extend beyond the general public to be directed at physicians as well. Many doctors, for example, could benefit enormously from learning more about safely prescribing such medications.
Prescription Opioid Medication
People who aren’t informed about the issue often scoff at the notion of prescribing yet more medication to someone who is coping with an opioid addiction. However, medication-assisted treatment has been shown to be very effective for helping addicts to achieve long-term sobriety from these highly addictive substances. Sometimes referred to as replacement or maintenance therapy treatment, the use of medications like methadone and buprenorophine has been shown to reduce the risk of relapse, which tends to be quite common among those who quit “cold turkey.”
Early Intervention for Opioid Addiction
Another potential key to ending this ongoing crisis is to find help for people as early in the addiction cycle as possible. The sooner people seek treatment, the easier and more effective their results tend to be. A huge part of this will depend on education and raising awareness. If society at large starts being more open about the signs of opioid addiction, for example, it would be easier for people to recognize it in themselves—and they would be more likely to seek treatment sooner. It should also be noted that increasing the availability of medications like naloxone, which reverse overdoses, would also help enormously. Naloxone helps not only by saving lives but by potentially assisting those who have overdosed to seek treatment.
Even when a person realizes that they have an opioid addiction, it isn’t always very easy or obvious to know where to turn for help. Increasing the availability of accessible, holistic, evidence-based treatment would streamline the process of reaching out for help when needed. This also means cracking down on treatment facilities that do little or nothing to truly help people overcome addictions. For example, more facilities could be required to employ doctors who are certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Someone shouldn’t have such difficulty locating opioid addiction treatment Arizona or anywhere else.
End the Stigma of Opioid Addiction
Finally, perhaps the best way to turn the tide of the devastating opioid crisis would be to end the stigma that continues to shroud addiction. Although major strides have been made in that regard over the last few decades, there is still a lot of stigma attached to being open about having an addiction. This unfortunately makes it more difficult for people to seek treatment—or even to admit that they have a problem in the first place. Once again, education will play a major role in ending this stigma, so adding information about addiction to school curricula, for example, could be a step in the right direction.
In trying to put an end to the opioid crisis, it’s crucial not to overlook the most important thing of all: the addicts themselves. At the end of the day, the primary goal of this battle will continue to be getting help for those who need it. If you believe that you are addicted to opioids, it’s important to understand that help is available. Our opioid addiction treatment Arizona facility is here to help you take the first step, so give us a call today.