The Issue

Medications are essential tools in the treatment of all chronic illnesses, including alcohol and other drug addictions. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) involves the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a whole-patient approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. MAT has been scientifically proven to reduce opioid misuse. Unfortunately, numerous barriers prevent millions of individuals, including many people involved in the criminal justice system, from receiving this effective treatment.

Current Initiatives

Federal
National
  • Co-chairing and coordinating the Coalition for Whole Health to ensure the Affordable Care Act is well implemented for people with mental health and substance use disorder service needs.
New York City and State
  • Ensuring New York State’s transition to Medicaid managed care does not result in a loss of substance use coverage or disruptions in treatment.

Policy Recommendations

  • Coverage of all three medications: Policymakers should ensure access to all three FDA-approved substance use disorder medications – methadone, buprenorphine/naloxone, and injectable naltrexone – through all private and public insurance, including Medicaid.
  • Vigilant enforcement of parity: Federal and state regulators, including state insurance commissioners, Medicaid directors and Attorneys General, should pay particular attention to the availability of MAT options as part of effectively overseeing implementation of the federal parity law and enforcing other consumer protection laws, including the Affordable Care Act.
  • Educated justice practitioners: Medical, community, court, and corrections officers should receive education and training on the nature, application, and implementation of MAT services.
  • Best MAT practices implemented in the justice system: Criminal justice agencies should identify and implement best practices for providing justice-involved individuals with addiction treatment, including MAT.
  • Expanded service infrastructure and improved linkages: Successful MAT programs should be replicated and brought to scale. As jails and prisons are among the largest providers of mental health and addiction services in the country, it is critical that they fully integrate MAT as an essential treatment tool, and link people to community-based treatment when released.

Learn More

To learn more about this issue, visit our Medication-Assisted Treatment Resources.

To learn more about LAC’s impact, see our Accomplishments.

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