The opioid crisis is raging strong across the nation. Here is how Pennsylvania is effectively combating one of society’s most serious problems.
The statistics on opioid use in the United States are alarming. It’s estimated that 130 opioid-related deaths occur every day. It’s not an exaggeration to say that as a country, we’re experiencing an opioid crisis and that many of our communities are struggling with finding a solution to protect those who are most at risk of opioid use and accessing the resources to treat those that have an opioid use problem. (1)
At a time when the nation as a whole is searching for an answer to the opioid epidemic, the state of Pennsylvania is making strides in being a national leader and role model in the fight against substance use by making it easier for doctors to treat individuals with opioid addiction.
Opioid Substance Use Treatment in Pennsylvania
The process of fighting substance use is one with many separate components all working towards one common goal. One of the biggest challenges is connecting people living with an addiction to an effective opioid substance use treatment in Pennsylvania. Often, in spite of best efforts, treatment is unattainable for many people with substance use disorders. New policies in Pennsylvania aim to break through current barriers that prevent people from getting the treatment they need.
A recent report published by the American Medical Association and the Pennsylvania Medical Society makes mention of all the ways Pennsylvania is succeeding in making opioid treatment more accessible for those in need. This success includes the elimination of barriers that previously made getting the appropriate treatment more difficult. For example, the state has moved to eliminate prior insurance authorizations for medication assisted treatment (MAT), as well as established dozens of Centers of Excellent throughout the state which have expanded access to medicated opioid use treatment.
Pennsylvania’s approaches to fighting the opioid epidemic are multifaceted, with many focusing in on evaluating and restructuring the protocols for medical oversight in substance use treatment. The state’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic have not gone unnoticed, especially in the eyes of former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg recently committed to giving the state of Pennsylvania $10 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies to help in the fight against the current crisis. Bloomberg chose Pennsylvania as the recipient of the large grant based on the scale of the epidemic within the state and the impressive strides that have been made thus far in helping individuals living with addiction, and for those who are at risk be able to overcome obstacles in receiving the treatment they need. (3)
Breaking Through Barriers of Insurance Coverage for Substance Use Treatment
It’s well established that one of the most significant recovery barriers for individuals struggling with addiction is the insurance authorization process. When a person living with an addiction problem is ready to commit to treatment, the time to get them the services they need is now, not a few weeks or even months down the road. This reason is why Pennsylvania has worked proactively to eliminate lag times with insurance coverage for substance use treatment.
In the fall of 2018, Pennsylvania announced it had an agreement with multiple large private insurance companies to waive their prior authorization requirements for doctors who wish to prescribe certain FDA approved medications for treating opioid misuse.
Under the previous regulations, if a physician wished to prescribe medications such as methadone, suboxone or naltrexone, there was a significant delay in treatment due to the insurance authorization process. Since these medications have been shown to be effective in easing cravings for opioids and treating the symptoms of withdrawal, being able to get them to patients more quickly goes a long way in preventing opioid use and fatalities from overdoes.
Innovative Addiction Treatment in Pennsylvania
While Pennsylvania is making incredible strides in leading the nation’s fight against the opioid crisis, the most important part of the process is getting people living with an addiction the care and treatment they need. If you or someone you care about is living with opioid use, the crucial first step is contacting a center for addiction treatment in Pennsylvania. You don’t have to feel powerless against opioid addiction, you just need to reach out and connect with a compassionate treatment center that will help you fight and win the battle.