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Medication Assisted Treatment

DamienAn increase in overdoses from prescription drugs and opioids, such as heroin and fentanyl, means that death caused by drugs exceeds those from car accidents and firearms. Yet, even as the opioids kill someone nearly every 15 minutes, the share of opioid and heroin addicts who receive medication assisted treatment remains low.

Several things account for this. One is the lack of insurance. Without insurance, these medicines can be expensive. Another reason is regulation. A medical provider is limited to 30, 100, or 275 prescriptions per month.  This is an outdated regulation; medical providers may write hundreds of prescriptions for an opioid painkiller, such as Percocet but can’t treat more than 275 patients a month for opioid addiction. Other factors are more powerful than regulations.  Stigma and discrimination of those with behavioral health or substance use issues have profound effects, which lead many to not disclose their symptoms and seek treatment.

September is National Recovery Month, a month that raises awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrates people who recover. The theme for 2017 is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Strengthen Families and Communities.” Please support National Recovery Month and let’s treat one another as equals. When someone is physically ill, we immediately respond to help and then celebrate that person’s recovery. That is not the case when someone experiences a mental health and/or substance use disorder. We need to bring parity between mental health and medical care because it’s the right thing to do and we need to integrate mental health and physical health. 

With every best wish and kind regard,

Damien Cabezas, CEO, Horizon Behavioral Health