Fighting The Opioid Crisis With New Legislation
We all know someone who has lost a life or had devastating consequences from opioid misuse. Preliminary numbers in 2017 show that in the US we lose more than 131 lives each day to opioid overdose. Congress reached a consensus on legislation, called the Support for Patients and Communities Act, that will help fight our nation’s opioid crisis. Since a compromise has now been reached, this new package is expected to soon be signed by President Trump. This bill offers many positive steps in fighting the opioid crisis, however many fear it is not enough.
What Is This Bill To Fight The Opioid Crisis?
The bill has a wide approach in fighting the opioid crisis. There are a mix of policies included that are beneficial and necessary in fighting this epidemic. They include regulating opioid supplies, finding an opioid replacement for better pain care, providing effective treatment for those in need, and having greater access to Naloxone.
Briefly, here are a few of the details.
Regulating Opioid Supplies
- To limit the availability of opioids “on the street” funding is promised to law enforcement working in drug trafficking areas and at the borders to stop the inflow of drugs.
- More tools will also be given to agencies to improve detection and testing of drugs at border checks. There will also be attempts to improve coordination between different agencies to stop illicit drugs like fentanyl at the border.
- Another area getting attention is to stop fentanyl from coming into the country through mail packages coming mostly from China. Currently, the USPS does not know what is in packages coming from abroad and this bill will require foreign packages to have advanced electronic data on the contents of the package and who is shipping it.
- To reduce opioid length of use, the FDA has the power to require opioid manufacturers to package the opioids in small dose blister packs to discourage physicians from prescribing larger amounts. There will also be penalties for manufacturers and distributors for overprescribing opioids.
Opioid Replacement – Better Pain Care
Unfortunately most throughout life experience pain and need relief.
- Federal agencies will have more research about pain and addiction. Funding will be provided in research to develop new, non-addictive painkillers.
- Education and awareness will also be given to hospitals and other care settings to safely treat patients that need pain management services.
More Support For People In Treatment
To boost access for those in need of addiction treatment:
- The bill will create a grant program for comprehensive opioid recovery centers that will be centered around the needs of their communities.
- Medication–assisted treatment (MAT) programs are quite effective in the treatment of opioid abuse and need to be available to more suffering from opioid addiction.In response to this, the guidelines around MAT will be loosened for qualified doctors, nurse practitioners and other providers to be able to prescribe drugs like buprenorphine, which reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
- Before, Medicaid did not cover patients with substance abuse disorders who were receiving treatment in a mental health facility with more than 16 beds. This bill expands Medicaid reimbursement for some drug treatment services for care at treatment facilities, allowing more to get the help they need.
Greater Access To Naloxone
An existing program is expanded to have Naloxone, a medication that temporarily reverses the effects of opioid overdose, more readily available to first responders like police officers and firefighters.
Help Is Available
Many are finding help with their opioid addiction with medical-assisted treatment. At A.M.C. of Columbus and A.M.C of Nashville we offer affordable, compassionate care using medication-assisted treatment combined with counseling, support and individualized recovery plans. Make that confidential call today. We want to talk to you about how you or a loved one can have life long recovery.