This is very welcome news:
Frustrated that medication-assisted treatment is coming across as the addiction field’s standard of care simply because drug company studies are dominating the research landscape, a group of some of the most prominent leaders in treatment administration is vowing to fight back. These leaders have enlisted the help of another heavy hitter in A. Thomas McLellan, PhD, CEO of the Treatment Research Institute (TRI), to issue a white paper that will highlight the evidence basis for residential, abstinence-based services.
It’s also a little confusing.
Confusing for two reasons. First, I saw McLellan speak at a conference a couple of years ago and he was very enthusiastic about medication as a front line treatment provided in primary care settings.
Second, one of the participating treatment programs was Hazelden. Just yesterday, Hazelden announced its adoption of buprenorphine maintenance.
What prompted this initative? Two things.
First, events at this year’s ASAM conference:
If there was one precipitating event this year that propelled this group into action after much past discussion, Moore says it was the annual conference of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) back in the spring. He says that several medical directors at prominent addiction treatment facilities, including his center’s top physician, returned from the conference reporting that the content was completely dominated by pharmaceutical research, particularly related to the opiate maintenance drug buprenorphine.
Second, drug company research is creating pressure from reimbursement sources.
And partly because of the emergence of pharmaceutical research, other sectors of the field appear to be embracing medication-assisted recovery as the first line of defense. In an extreme example, Moore says that in New Jersey, Seabrook House found itself combating managed care policies that were blocking any attempts to place opiate addicts in their late teens into residential treatment, mandating that these young people be seen instead by buprenorphine-prescribing physicians in private practice.