Colorado Pilot Program Expansion Provides Access to Medication-Assisted Addiction Treatment

Drug addiction treatment

The use of medication-assisted treatment for opioid abuse has increased greatly during the 21st century. Medication-assisted therapy has been shown to reduce withdrawal symptoms, help opioid abusers function at work and with their families, reduce risks of often-deadly overdoses, and reduce criminal behavior and relapse.

A bill recently passed by the Colorado state Senate and House and signed by the governor would provide funds to provide medication-assisted treatment for Medicaid patients in the state as part of a pilot program to combat rising overdose death rates and help those struggling with opioid addiction.

Medications Used In Opioid Addiction Treatment

The most common medication used to treat opioid addiction is methadone. In 2003, 227,000 people received methadone from an approved opioid treatment program, which is the only way to receive methadone. In 2015, that number had jumped to over 356,000.

It is not always feasible for those in treatment to get methadone since not all areas have OTP facilities and some cannot make a trip to an OTP every day and still keep their jobs or other commitments. Two other medications, buprenorphine and naltrexone, have become increasingly popular as treatments for opioid abuse, at least partly because they can be dispensed by physicians and other medical professionals even when OTPs are not readily available.

Each of these medications has side effects, however, and not everyone can take them. For those who can, it makes a tough process that much more manageable and can be an effective treatment for some who abuse opioids.

Drug addiction treatment

Using medications as part of drug addiction treatment has become more common in recent years.

Provisions of Bill SB17-074

Bill SB17-074 would provide grants to train nurse practitioners and physician assistants working in substance abuse and behavioral health treatment organizations to prescribe and administer buprenorphine and other medications to those with opioid dependencies.

The money for these efforts would be taken from the marijuana tax fund and would work in conjunction with the University of Colorado nursing college to provide training and support to medical professionals and to distribute the funds. The program is only funded for two years and provides $500,000 for each year under the proposed bill.

A MAT advisory board would provide oversight and help to implement the program and would include representatives of the College of Nursing, a newly created State Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force, the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, the Colorado Academy of Physician Assistants, and other groups.

The advisory board would also make recommendations for grant recipients and amounts and evaluate the program to see whether it should be continued when the pilot program ends.

State officials said they proposed the bill because it was “necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety.” The effort is one way to help combat the rapidly growing opioid epidemic which has led to a corresponding increase in overdose deaths.

If you are suffering from addiction to opioids, now is the time to seek life-saving treatment. Learn about admissions to Recovery Village at Palmer Lake and explore how our programs can help you successfully battle opioid dependence and other drug abuse issues.