Expand Vets' Access to Methadone, Other Addiction Treatment, Report Says

The U.S. military's Tricare program is coming under fire for not providing reimbursement for methadone maintenance and buprenorphine treatment — two leading pharmacological interventions for opioid addiction.

The Navy Times reported Nov. 5 that a new report from the Drug Policy Alliance called on the federal government to expand veterans' access to addiction treatment, including medication-assisted therapy.

Tricare prohibits payments for “drug maintenance programs when one addictive drug is substituted for another on a maintenance basis [such as methadone substituted for heroin]” — a policy called “outrageous” by Robert Newman of the Rothschild Chemical Dependency Institute.

The report said that addiction problems are strongly associated with incarceration of veterans; about 19 percent of returning Iraq and Afghan war vets have been treated by the Veterans' Administration for addictions.

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