Since President Obama announced plans to spend $1 billion over a period of two years to tackle the opiate epidemic that has greatly affected the nation, there has been a lot of debate. Although it is an encouragement to those in the addiction field, it is important to point out that this is a big commitment that is likely to have major effects. According to statistics, this crisis kills about 30,000 Americans annually. One thing that is for sure is that for the plan to succeed, there are several hurdles that it has to overcome. The following are just some of them.
The Stigma Still Persists
The major plan by the president is to put opioid abusers on medication. The problem, however, is that most people in the recovery community are still wary of treating such addicts. They are reluctant to use another opiate to treat an addiction. Many of them believe that abstinence is the perfect treatment method and so, they are not ready to use substances such as methadone or buprenorphine especially when they too can be abused.
The Shortage Of Doctors To Prescribe Medication
According to the most recent records, there are only 30, 000 doctors across the United States that can prescribe the kind of medication that president Obama is pushing for. With an estimated 2.1 million Americans addicted to opiates, this number of doctors is too low. It is unclear whether the White House plans to train the workforce in order to fill the deficit. This is to add to the fact that policies about opioids are quite delicate and updating them can be an uphill task.
Addiction Is Not The Only Problem
According to the experts, medication treatment alone cannot be effective unless there is therapy. For an acute crisis, traditional inpatient treatment is also required. It, therefore, will not be enough if the president only pumps up the number of methadone prescriptions. For the experienced doctors, it does not make sense to prescribe medication when the patient does not have enough emotional and social support.
Insurance Coverage Has Big Gaps
There needs to be a better coverage for opiate addicts because taxpayer money is not enough. There should particularly be medications from private insurance to cover for the shortage. A look at the Mental
Health Act of 2015 reveals that there is supposed to be adequate coverage for mental health treatment which includes substance abuse.
The Proposal May Not Go Through Congress
One thing that should be noted is that a proposal such as this one is just a budget. It can only be implemented if Congress appropriates the money. Considering that Congress is dominated by the Republicans, it almost impossible to even hold hearings on a budget suggested by Obama.
There, however, is some hope for the plan. Some key members including Tennessee senator Lamar Alexander have indicated that they are willing to support the administration on matters relating to drug abuse. The same sentiments have been echoed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell though it is still not enough for the senate to approve it.