Behavioral Healthcare · 28 Jun 2020 0

COVID-19 and Addiction

Tell Your Reps: Add Key Addiction Legislation to COVID-19 Stimulus!

As a member of the Shatterproof community, I am uniquely concerned about the negative impact that the COVID-19 virus will have on overdose rates, strain on the healthcare system, and the risk of relapse. The overdose crisis continues to be a national emergency. We need strong federal action now to save lives. 

Even though addiction is a treatable illness, we needlessly lose thousands of lives due to a nationwide shortage of trustworthy, affordable, evidence-based care.

The societal and economic factors surrounding COVID-19, such as isolation, loss of structure, unemployment, increased stress, depression and anxiety, will undoubtedly lead to reduced engagement in addiction treatment.  

The addiction treatment system is facing issues with revenue, workforce capacity, and supply of medication. Increased demand for treatment and reduced supply is a recipe for disaster. 

In order to increase access to treatment for those struggling, we need to remove the buprenorphine waiver requirement. Medications, such as buprenorphine, are the most effective evidence-based treatment we have available for opioid use disorder. Especially during the global pandemic and increased number of overdoses, we need to expand access to this life-saving medication and allow providers to prescribe via telemedicine. 

The Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act would eliminate the separate waiver, called DATA 2000 X-waiver, needed to prescribe buprenorphine for addiction treatment. We know that removing barriers to buprenorphine saves lives. 

The MATE Act will require all DEA-controlled medication prescribers to receive a one-time training on treating and managing patients with addiction (unless the prescriber is otherwise qualified). It will allow accredited medical schools and residency programs, physician assistant schools, and schools of advanced practice nursing to fulfill the training requirement through a comprehensive curriculum that meets the standards specified. This will help normalize addiction medicine education across professional schools and phase out the need for these future practitioners to take a separate, federally mandated addiction training course.

Please include the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act (H.R. 2482/S. 2074), and The Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act (H.R. 4974) in the COVID-19 stimulus packages to provide critical resources to those struggling with addiction and abate the forthcoming drug overdose epidemic. 

With the current uptick in usage rates and anticipated overdose rates, we need to take action now to mitigate the damage on this vulnerable population amidst COVID-19.

Carenodes is a Shatterproof Ambassador organization.

Shatterproof Ambassadors are a part of a national network of volunteer peer leaders, educating and empowering others to learn about and support Shatterproof’s mission to reverse the addiction crisis in the United States. Ambassadors are committed to promoting the Shatterproof vision and representing the organization. Being a Shatterproof Ambassador is a rewarding experience that allows you to share your passion for Shatterproof’s mission.

About Shatterproof

Shatterproof is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the devastation the disease of addiction causes families.

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