The opioid misuse and addiction epidemic is devastating communities across the United States. During the twelve-month period ending January 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there were approximately 64,000 drug overdose deaths.[i] Despite these alarming statistics, only 1 in 10 people with substance use disorder receive treatment.
The number of physicians equipped with the education and training to identify, prevent, and treat addiction has been unable to keep up with the unprecedented increase in need for addiction treatment. That is why ASAM applauds Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) for introducing the Enhancing Access to Addiction Treatment Act of 2018. This legislation would establish a new pathway to obtain a DATA waiver and train more new physicians to prescribe medication-assisted treatment.
“This country’s addiction treatment gap will never be closed with the current addiction treatment workforce. There are simply too few physicians with the requisite knowledge to meet the needs of the millions of Americans suffering from untreated substance use disorders,” said Kelly J. Clark, MD, MBA, DFAPA, DFASAM, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). “To make a meaningful and sustainable impact on the current opioid overdose epidemic, and to stave off future epidemics related to other addictive substances, it is imperative that our nation make strategic investments in the education of our medical students and residents. By also establishing an additional pathway to obtain a DATA waiver, the Enhancing Access to Addiction Treatment Act will increase the number of physicians who will enter the practice of medicine better equipped to help patients suffering with addiction. To this end, ASAM is proud to support this important piece of legislation.”
We also need to correct the payment problem for these services; the key to getting more physicians doing this, is to make it WORTHWHILE financially with fewer non-economic burdens such as prior-authorizations for care!