Brookline, Mass. — Dr. Robert Friedman, MD, a senior lecturer with the American College of Addiction Medicine (ACAM) recently testified before the Massachusetts’ legislature’s Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse in favor of Senate Bill 998.
If approved, the bill would create a model program in at the Suffolk and Middlesex Houses of Correction to provide Opioid dependent offenders with voluntary NTX-XR (Vivitrol) treatment, an injected, long-lasting formulation of the opiate blocker Naltrexone.
“The American College of Addiction Medicine supports this proposed model program because it will evaluate whether Vivitrol will benefit offenders who are leaving correctional facilities and transitioning to community based treatment programs,” said Dr. Punyamurtula S. Kishore, president of the college. “Addicted individuals require support for their sobriety maintenance and Vivitrol administration significantly increases the chances of sustained sobriety and prevention of overdose deaths.”
If Senate Bill 998 is enacted, it will also evaluate the effectiveness of Vivitrol on criminal recidivism and treatment outcomes.
ACAM lecturer Carla Jones also testified regarding the need to combine therapeutic counseling with pharmacologic modalities like Vivitrol in order to improve sobriety experience. Also, Ms. Adrian Colletti of the family support group Mother Power based in Weymouth and an associate of ACAM, testified that Vivitrol successfully stabilized a family-member who is addicted to opiates.
Colletti, who lost her son to an opiate overdose, stressed the need for close coordination between medical providers, counselors, and families within the care model. ACAM is actively engaged in review of programs and treatment models that reduce America’s prescription drug epidemic, in particular the fastest growing and most dangerous area, which involves Opioids prescribed for medical use, but subsequently used for non-medical purposes.
In 2009, the Massachusetts legislature declared an Oxycodone/Oxycontin epidemic in Massachusetts, citing non-medical use of the prescription Opioid medication as a statewide public health crisis.
Widely available statistics, including Centers of Disease Control data showing a 175 percent increase in accidental fatalities stemming from prescription drug misuse and a 400 percent increase in use of prescription Opioids in the United States, underscore the need for a coordinated response to the crisis.
Vivitrol administration offers numerous benefits to patients because of its 30-day formulation that provides a constant delivery of the medicine into the bloodstream of the patient. Studies show that Vivitrol significantly improves the odds of sustained sobriety (6-12 months, or longer), especially in patients under 30 and most notably, in patients under 21 years of age.
In his testimony, Dr. Friedman noted that addiction is a chronic illness that can be treated, but cannot be cured. ACAM has consistently called for a new model of addiction care that recognizes it as chronic disease and provides treatment modalities similar to care for people with high blood pressure and diabetes, specifically a lifelong commitment to monitoring, stabilizing and caring for patients.
Development and implementation of a therapeutic community approach to all addiction, including those associated with Opioid prescription drug misuse and abuse, is essential to improved outcomes and cost-reduction associated with the disease.
The community-based model allows the patient and care-giver to interact in structured and unstructured ways in order to influence attitudes, perceptions and behaviors that lie at the heart of drug use and abuse. ACAM actively promotes the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) as a cost-effective, comprehensive health model that provides recovering patients with accessible, comprehensive, and integrated care.
For more information, visit www.addictionmedicineassociates.com.