Lawmakers Talk Intensive Treatment Programs, Access To Medication-Assisted Therapy To Battle Opioid Epidemic
This week, the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee listened to testimony from substance abuse and mental health care providers, physicians, and researchers about opioid addiction and the treatment programs and services needed to fight the epidemic.
Chairwoman Anitere Flores (R-FL) from Miami said that a multi-pronged approach involving short-term intensive treatment, long-term outpatient care, and medication-assisted treatment might offer “a really good roadmap” as a solution to the crisis.
“The harder part now is to figure out where we get the money, but we’ll work on it. “
Flores also noted that she hasn’t determined how much funding the state should allocate to the issue:
“How much in each part, obviously the details are a little complicated, but I’d like for us to spend a significant amount, whatever that means.”
Valerie Westhead, CMO of Aspire Health Partners in Orlando also spoke, stating that stabilizing addicts on medication such as naltrexone helps them to benefit from other therapies, work, and interact with their families.
She said that she and others had seen good results from use of the injectable form of naltrexone, Vivitrol, a medication that stays in the system for a month. She noted that in her 30 years of treating addiction, she has “never seen a medication that has worked as well as naltrexone.”
Flores in response:
“We heard some pretty powerful testimony today from medical experts that said we have got some medicine out there that actually works. She didn’t say it was a miracle drug, but she came pretty darn close to saying that.”
Gov. Rick Scott is requesting $50 million to battle the opioid epidemic, but he hasn’t stated how he wanted the funds to be spent. Addiction treatment specialists and mental health providers are also asking for $50 million.
Meanwhile, the state is moving forward with $27 million in federal money for the crisis, some of which will be spent on 49 new methadone treatment facilities in areas of high need. The funding also includes $1.8 million for Narcan (naloxone) a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology