In St. Louis, Seattle and San Francisco, people with opioid addictions can start medication on their first day of treatment. Early research suggests the approach can change lives. But it will be a tough sell elsewhere: Nearly two-thirds of U.S. treatment centers don’t offer anti-addiction drugs and there’s resistance to easy access.
In Missouri, some treatment programs had shunned buprenorphine, particularly long-term, in favor of abstinence-based counseling and support groups. Some didn’t have doctors or nurses who could prescribe it. Some believed medications were a crutch that prevented true recovery.
In 2017, with overdose deaths rising, Missouri tied federal grant money to a medication-first philosophy. Programs would get money only if they started clients on meds rapidly and if they dropped rules about medication time limits and attending counseling.
The result? Medication treatment increased and more patients stayed in treatment longer, said Rachel Winograd of University of Missouri-St. Louis who studied the implementation.
There’s pushback in Missouri from those who see the idea as at odds with “full and thriving recovery,” Winograd said. “The state is saying, we can do both.”
Source: The Associated Press