At Center on Addiction, we are committed to transforming the way our nation addresses addiction. We are creating a movement to extinguish the deep-rooted misconceptions that surround addiction and prevent our society from investing in the resources required to transform the way our nation views and treats addiction.
But we can’t do it alone. We need our elected officials to help change the system, secure necessary resources and advance effective care. We are shaping public policy by focusing on the following priorities.
Implement a Public Health Approach
We can effectively end our nation’s addiction crisis by implementing a public health approach. While we have the solutions to end the opioid crisis, we’ve historically prioritized a punitive approach rather than teat addiction as a disease.
Demand Resources to Help Families
With the recent passing of the SUPPORT Act, we have a clear path forward to address addiction in this country. Still, we need to ensure this issue remains a priority and there is the political will to dedicate the necessary resources to end the epidemic.
Authorize and appropriate significant funding in the federal budget for addiction resources, including a dedicated funding stream for family support services which does not currently exist.
Catch It Early
We know the importance of early intervention when it comes to substance use. Catching and addressing substance use issues early, coupled with prevention education, is key.
Fix the existing coverage gaps for addiction treatment in state benchmark insurance plans and fully implement and enforce the Affordable Care Act to increase access to affordable evidence-based substance use disorder (SUD) care. Help us spread the word about the discriminatory practices by insurance plans.
Improve enforcement and implementation of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Co-sponsor the Mental Health Parity Compliance Act (S. 1737/H.R. 3165) and encourage your constituents to write a letter to their Member of Congress.
Fix the Treatment System
While addiction is a preventable and treatable disease, nearly 200 people die every day to overdose. This is unacceptable, especially when we have viable treatment for addiction and people can and do recover. To promote greater access to effective and affordable treatment, the time has come for addiction medicine to be fully integrated into health care systems and medical practice.
Remove unnecessary barriers to evidence-based treatment. Pass the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, which removes the waiver requirement for prescribing buprenorphine.
Fully fund the program authorized in the SUPPORT Act, which authorizes a grant program for medical schools and teaching hospitals to establish curricula for prescribing medications for addiction treatment. Encourage and support medical schools to provide SUD training and better equip future generations of health care providers to treat addiction like any other disease.
End the Stigma
None of this is possible unless we change the culture and end stigma. Addiction is a chronic disease. Let’s treat it that way. The sense of isolation that families feel when struggling with addiction is unconscionable and we must change that by speaking out and ending the stigma of addiction.
Lift up the voices of families. Encourage your constituents to share their stories on social media. Sharing stories of loss or recovery will help change the conversation and end the stigma associated with addiction.