Addiction is one of the leading public health issues today — continuing to devastate families and communities throughout America. Prescription drug abuse, increased heroin availability, and the startling rise in overdose deaths across the nation have brought us to the precipice of a great national awakening.
America has a lengthy history of trying to regulate drugs and alcohol – going back to the 19th century with temperance movements, mutual aid societies, asylums, and institutions. Forty years ago the movement evolved into the War on Drugs – which the Obama Administration deemed counter-productive in 2009. This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the first-ever guidelines for dispensing opiates and passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). America is now poised to substantially address addiction prevention, research, and treatment.
Today, we urge our President-Elect Donald J. Trump to continue to prioritize the disease of addiction. The President is uniquely positioned to lead the charge in ending the stigma around addiction and making the hope of recovery a reality for millions by:
- Holding government agencies accountable for funding addiction treatment outcomes research and maintaining access to quality addiction treatment. Good treatment outcomes are contingent on adequate length of stay.
- Enforcing the recommendations from the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force report to ensure implementation of parity protections under the law. This includes holding insurers accountable for making substance use disorder treatment coverage available, offering coverage information to consumers, and bringing an end to preauthorization for residential treatment.
- Halting the IMD Exclusion which would limit Medicaid funding for residential treatment to 15 days in facilities with 16 beds or less. Those who are in active addiction and are economically vulnerable will be the most affected. Pregnant women, women with dependent children, and low-level drug offenders coming out of incarceration will be left with very few viable options for any kind of impactful substance use disorder treatment.
- Ensuring that Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is being used responsibly and in the manner in which it is intended – to “assist” substance use disorder treatment, not as a substitute for counseling.
- Modelling the use of non-stigmatizing terms and helping change the language used around substance use disorders in the medical field and within the criminal justice system. Stigma remains one of the biggest barriers to addiction treatment faced by patients.
- Directing federal agency oversight of residential recovery housing to be held to a consistent standard of care and prohibit patient brokering.
- Proactively providing federal guidance in directing tax revenue generated funds toward education, prevention, and substance use disorder treatment for states who permit marijuana sales, although currently contrary to the federal ban.
- Working with Congress to find solutions around synthetic opioids. These drugs are creating an overdose crisis and threatening the lives of the first responders. Additionally; overdose reversal medicines like Narcan are useless against them.
At Caron Treatment Centers, we are helping patients and families affected by this disease daily. We need to come together as a nation to find solutions to help addicts and their families get the access to treatment they desperately need to recover. Our government cannot rest on the laurels of last year’s accomplishments. Today alone, 129 people will die of an overdose. On January 20, 2017, we look to the President to seize this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of millions of Americans seeking hope and treatment. Be the President who creates meaningful change so individuals and families can get the lifesaving help they so desperately need.
 Principle of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). (Updated December 2012). In NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved November 8, 2016, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-long-does-drug-addiction-treatment.
 Words Matter. (May 16, 2016). In Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved on November 7, 2016, from https://blog.samhsa.gov/2016/05/16/words-matter/#.WCD9nTYzWf8.