New Report: Improved Medication-Assisted Treatment Policy Could Combat Epidemic of 20 Million Americans with Untreated Addiction

WASHINGTON, DC – Following the reintroduction of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, Legal Action Center (LAC) released a report urging policymakers to take steps to address the growing opioid and heroin epidemic through more effective use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

The report, “The Case for Expanding Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment to Address the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic,” outlines the health, justice, and economic advantages of medication-assisted treatment along with several policy recommendations for improving addiction treatment.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 524), introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Senator Robert Portman (R-Ohio), would invest substantial funds in services at both the community level and within the criminal justice system, with particular funding going to the development of comprehensive treatment initiatives that incorporate MAT.

“Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in the nation,” said Paul N. Samuels, Director and President of LAC. “Meanwhile, we are in the midst of a heroin and opioid epidemic with usage doubling in the last ten years. Despite the clear benefits, MAT remains a tragically under-utilized tool in helping people enter and sustain recovery. We can no longer ignore effective options. LAC urges policymakers to support legislation that would expand access to MAT and other addiction treatment services.”

The LAC report presses legislators to make effective medication available through insurance coverage; enforce public and private consumer protection requirements; and eliminate obstacles resulting from misinformation and lack of training.

LAC also advocates for increased utilization of MAT in the criminal justice system, including: promoting treatment alternatives to incarceration where appropriate; improving availability of MAT services in prisons; and placing a greater emphasis on creating pathways to recovery programs.

View the full report here.

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