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Addiction experts, including the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), are lobbying for greater support for addiction treatment, particularly medication-assisted treatment (MAT), to address America’s opioid addiction crisis.

At a special press briefing on Capitol Hill organized by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and featuring NIDA director Nora Volkow, MD, leading psychiatrists and other experts noted that in addition to a lack of education and training, stigma still prevents many clinicians from helping those with opioid dependence and other substance use disorders.

“We happen to be very lucky that we have medications that work to treat opioid use disorder,” said Dr Volkow. The drugs — methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine ― “prevent overdoses, they prevent relapse. But they are not being implemented,” in part because of stigma, she said.

“We’re treating [addiction] as if it were a voluntary behavior,” said Dr Volkow, who added that infrastructure remains inadequate to treat the vast numbers of those in the United States who have opioid use disorder.

“There are plenty of people out there who would like to have medications to treat opioid dependence but just don’t have access,” Kyle Kampman, MD, one of the speakers, who is professor of psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, told Medscape Medical News.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently reported that in the past year, more than 10,000 physicians have become certified to provide in-office buprenorphine treatment. Slightly more than 3000 have become certified to provide MAT for an upper limit of 275 patients. A total of 37,647 clinicians have certification to offer MAT to 30 patients or more, according to SAMHSA.

Full article here.