Insurance Plans Not Covering Necessary Services for People with Addiction: Report

Insurance Plans Not Covering Necessary Services for People with Addiction: Report
A new report finds insurance plans around the country are not covering the necessary services for people with addiction. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reviewed addiction benefits offered in the 2017 Essential Health Benefits benchmark plans and found more than two-thirds violate the Affordable Care Act. None of the plans are adequate, the report concluded. “Our findings reveal that people with addiction may not be receiving effective treatment because insurance plans aren’t covering the full range of evidence-based care,” Lindsey Vuolo, JD, MPH, Associate Director of Health Law and Policy at The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, and lead author of the report, said in a news release. “For example, our review did not find a single state that covers all of the approved medications used to treat opioid addiction.” The Essential Health Benefits benchmark plans determine which addiction benefits are available to the 12.7...
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Six States Ban Kratom Over Concerns About Addiction Potential

Six States Ban Kratom Over Concerns About Addiction Potential
Alabama recently became the sixth state to ban the herbal supplement kratom over concerns about its potential for addiction, according to the Associated Press . Wisconsin, Vermont, Tennessee, Indiana and Arkansas have also banned the supplement. Alabama classified kratom as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin and Ecstasy. More states are also considering banning kratom, which is often sold as a pain treatment. Kratom is a plant that originates in Southeast Asia. The drug is categorized as a botanic dietary supplement. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot restrict the sale of kratom unless it is proved unsafe, or manufacturers claim it treats a medical condition. The FDA banned the import of kratom into the United States in 2014. Kratom is not controlled under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has listed kratom as a “drug and chemical of concern,” and notes on its website that...
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Addiction Experts Battle Stigma Attached to Medication-Assisted Treatment

Addiction Experts Battle Stigma Attached to Medication-Assisted Treatment
Opioid addiction treatment experts say although the evidence is clear that medication-assisted treatment is the best way to tackle the nation’s opioid epidemic, there is still a stigma attached to using these medications. Only a small percentage of the more than 4 million people who abuse prescription painkillers or heroin in the United States use one of these medications, methadone or buprenorphine, NPR reports. These treatments have been proven to reduce relapses and overdoses, the article notes. While limited availability of these treatments is an issue, stigma around the use of addiction medications also prevents some people from using them, experts say. Because methadone and buprenorphine are opioids, a widespread view among people in recovery is that using these medications is simply replacing one drug with another. They say true recovery requires abstinence—without the use of medication. This view is strongly disputed by doctors and scientists. The Obama Administration is...
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Cigna and Addiction Specialists Team Up to Study Which Treatments are Working

Cigna and Addiction Specialists Team Up to Study Which Treatments are Working
The health insurance company Cigna is teaming up with the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) to study which substance abuse treatments are effective, Forbes reports. The company will provide two years of medical claims data to ASAM, who will work with health researchers at Brandeis University to test and validate which treatments are working. All patient names have been removed to ensure confidentiality. The results could be used to develop guidelines for Cigna and other health insurers to establish protocols for doctors and other mental health providers, the article notes. “When it comes to substance abuse, there are not clear guidelines,” said Dr. William Lopez, Cigna’s Senior Medical Director for Behavioral Health. “Our position is that we want to individualize the treatments and by having some guidelines that are more holistic, we will attain that goal. We want to move from volume to value.” He explained researchers hope that...
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Shortage of Addiction Treatment Personnel Intensifies as Opioid Crisis Worsens

Shortage of Addiction Treatment Personnel Intensifies as Opioid Crisis Worsens
Addiction treatment centers are struggling to find enough qualified personnel as the opioid crisis worsens, The Wall Street Journal reports. Retention of addiction treatment workers has long been an issue because of low pay, high burnout rate and the stigma attached to addiction, the article notes. Many counselors move on to other fields after several years. There are many reasons the demand for addiction treatment workers—including psychiatrists, licensed counselors and house aides—is increasing. The number of patients addicted to heroin and prescription painkillers is on the rise. The Affordable Care Act requires private insurance companies and Medicaid to cover substance use disorders, and states that have expanded Medicaid under the law have made coverage available to many new patients. In addition, a growing number of localities are steering drug offenders to treatment instead of prison. “Our biggest problem right now is a lack of workforce,” said Becky Vaughn, Vice President...
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Surgeon General Will Release Report on Addiction This Fall

Surgeon General Will Release Report on Addiction This Fall
The U.S. Surgeon General will release a report this fall on substance use, addiction and health, according to Medscape . It will be the first such report since U.S. surgeons began issuing them in 1964. The report will cover topics including prescription drug use, as well as the use of alcohol and other substances, said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD. Murthy said the report will “bring together the best available science on prevention, treatment, and recovery, so we can equip our healthcare providers with the tools they need to take the best possible care of patients.” He told the Association of Health Care Journalists this week that his office will soon send letters to 1.1 million physicians, nurses, dentists and others who prescribe opioids, urging them to increase their efforts to fight the opioid epidemic. The letter will ask prescribers to identify patients at risk for addiction, connect patients...
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Addiction Once Again a Major Issue in Presidential Election

Addiction Once Again a Major Issue in Presidential Election
Addiction, which was a major issue leading up to the presidential primary in New Hampshire, is once again a key topic in the election, The Wall Street Journal reports. Both elected officials and advocacy groups are working to ensure that addiction stays an important issue in the race, the article notes. Recently, addiction was in the political spotlight when President Obama spoke at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit about steps his administration is taking to combat the opioid epidemic. “The breadth of the problem is demanding that candidates for president put it on their front burner,” said Republican Representative Hal Rogers of Kentucky, who represents the group that organized the summit, Operation Unite. “We need a national program, a campaign if you will, that comprehensively deals with the problem.” Last week the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released a poll that found 43 percent of...
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Addiction May be Linked With High Social Media Use in People With Depression

Addiction May be Linked With High Social Media Use in People With Depression
A new study suggests addiction may be linked with the high use of social media in people with depression. People who check social media most frequently throughout the week were 2.7 times more likely to be depressed than those who check it least often, the study found. Compared with peers who spend less time on social media, people who spend the most time on social media throughout the day are 1.7 times more likely to be depressed, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found. Addiction seemed to explain about three-fourths of the effect of social media use on depression, the researchers report in Depression and Anxiety . “It may be that people who already are depressed are turning to social media to fill a void,” researcher Lui yi Lin said in a news release. “We believe that at least having clinicians be aware of these associations may...
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DEA Will Announce Whether Marijuana Should be Reclassified in First Half of 2016

DEA Will Announce Whether Marijuana Should be Reclassified in First Half of 2016
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said this week it will decide in the first half of 2016 whether marijuana should be reclassified under federal law. The agency gave no indication what its decision will be, according to The Huffington Post . There are five categories, or schedules, for drugs in the United States. Schedule I drugs are considered by the DEA to have the highest potential for abuse and no current accepted medical use. Marijuana is currently a Schedule I drug, along with heroin and LSD. If marijuana were rescheduled, it still would be illegal under federal law, but the change might ease restrictions on research, and reduce penalties for marijuana-related offenses, the article notes. The DEA was responding to a letter sent last July by eight Democratic senators, who urged the federal government to facilitate research on the benefits of medical marijuana. The senators said the research is needed...
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One Question About Drinking Can Help Doctors Find Teens at Risk for Alcohol Problems

One Question About Drinking Can Help Doctors Find Teens at Risk for Alcohol Problems
One question about drinking frequency in the past year can help doctors identify which teens are at risk for alcohol problems, a new study concludes. Teens ages 12 to 17 who report having at least one drink on three or more days in the past year are most at risk for alcohol problems. The study also supports the use of age-based screening thresholds recommended by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s (NIAAA) Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioner’s Guide. “Primary care physicians are encouraged to screen adolescents for alcohol problems, yet many do not, citing time constraints and other issues,” NIAAA Director George Koob, PhD said in a news release. “This study demonstrates that simple screening tools such as those in NIAAA’s Youth Guide are efficient and effective.” The study included almost 1,200 young people ages 12 to 20. They were asked about their alcohol...
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Facing Addiction and The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) are proud to announce the merger of our organizations – creating a national leader in turning the tide on the addiction epidemic.
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