Some federal grants will even require rehab centers to offer it.
Jason Cherkis - Reporter, The Huffington Post
Ryan Grim - Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post
WASHINGTON -- For the first time, the federal agency responsible for most public funding of drug addiction treatment has added language to its grant applications designed to push the treatment industry away from the abstinence model.
Treatment for substance abuse disorders in the United States widely follows this model, which rests on the belief that abstaining from all drugs, including medications prescribed specifically for addiction, is the only acceptable route to recovery.
The new grant language from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration encourages states to reject the status quo and to require the option of medication-assisted treatment in clinical settings.
The new language appears in SAMHSA's block grant application for fiscal years 2016-2017. The money available through these block grants is substantial; in fiscal year 2015, the agency had $1.8 billion to award. So while some treatment providers vehemently disagree with the federal recommendation, the suggestion will carry weight.
Among the medical establishment, medication-assisted treatment -- such as providing methadone or buprenorphine (which goes by the brand name Suboxone) -- is widely viewed as the standard of care for treating heroin and other opioid addicts. But the vast majority of rehabilitation facilities in the U.S. do not offer such care.
The block grant application now states:
There is a voluminous literature on the efficacy of [Food and Drug Administration]-approved medications for the treatment of substance use disorders. However, many treatment programs in the U.S. offer only abstinence-based treatment for these conditions. SAMHSA strongly encourages the states to require that treatment facilities providing clinical care to those with substance use disorders be required to either have the capacity and staff expertise to use MAT or have collaborative relationships with other providers such that these MATs can be accessed as clinically indicated for patient need. Individuals with substance use disorders who have a disorder for which there is an FDA-approved medication treatment should have access to those treatments based upon each individual patient's needs.
As the opioid epidemic has spiked -- the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that heroin-related overdose deaths almost quadrupled between 2002 and 2013 -- the inadequacy of the U.S. treatment system has become all the more apparent. In January, The Huffington Post published an investigation that looked at the abstinence model's failure and how it led to more overdose deaths.
Read the entire article at the Huffington Post