Most Outpatient Mental Health Clinics Don’t Offer Opioid Addiction Meds

Most Outpatient Mental Health Clinics Don’t Offer Opioid Addiction Meds

Only about one-third of outpatient mental health centers provide medication-assisted treatment for patients with opioid addiction, research shows. A nationwide survey published by JAMA revealed that although opioid use disorder rates are high among those experiencing mental health issues, the needed medications are not being utilized.

Treating those affected with opioid use issues with medicines like methadone, suboxone, and buprenorphine is considered the gold standard of care. These medications effectively reduce drug cravings and make the withdrawal process more comfortable. This is thought to contribute to higher recovery success rates.

Since hundreds of thousands of Americans die each year from opioid overdose, the lack of access to medication assisted treatment in mental health clinics puts lives at risk, experts contend. Proponents of the treatments suggest that these ecosystems would be a perfect point of entry for those needing opioid addiction treatment.

Some clinics not offering medication management reported that they referred patients to other facilities for this type of care. Many of these centers were within the same treatment system. This could make referrals easier for the facility but not necessarily for people needing treatment.

The researcher found that clinics providing integrated mental health and addiction recovery programs were much more likely to provide these FDA approved medications for opioid drug addiction.

These findings might indicate that outpatient clinics could improve recovery outcomes by offering a more comprehensive approach to care. Patients dealing with substance use issues and mental health problems could benefit from medication assisted treatment.

Experts speculate that more housing accommodations or easier referral processes could lead to these services being offered more. Whatever the breakdown may be, with the opioid crisis still looming, healthcare facilities may need to remove as many barriers to treatment as possible.

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