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Addiction Treatment


Addiction treatment, especially Medication-Assisted Treatment like methadone maintenance treatment or office-based buprenorphine treatment, has been shown to dramatically reduce overdose risk. Unfortunately, access to treatment is limited by three main factors: availability, accessibility of treatment options, and negative attitudes or stigma associated with addiction and treatment in general.


Many people who seek help for their substance abuse are unable to access treatment, encounter insurance barriers, month-long wait lists, programs that don't meet their needs, or programs they cannot afford. Regrettably, many people are only able to access treatment as a result of an arrest or criminal conviction. Advocating for increased funding of treatment and more qualified health care providers who are willing and able to provide these services can improve treatment access.


In addition to the possible logistical difficulties in accessing services, people with substance use disorders may not want to access treatment because of shame or fear of stigma. There is an increasing trend in people becoming addicted to prescription medications; however, the community or individual perception may be that treatment is only for substances like alcohol, heroin, or cocaine, but not for prescription drugs. Community members and people struggling with addiction specifically need to be aware that there is a broad range of treatment options, including treatment for people addicted to prescription medications which can be tailored to suit the needs of each individual. Additional advocacy work can be done to broaden the definition of treatment to include models of care that incorporate harm reduction principles and prioritize health, safety, and improving quality of life over strict abstinence. Treatment, like other health care decisions, should be consensual and self-directed.


​Expanding support services for those that have been affected by prescription medication misuse, diversion, or overdose is a needed adjunct to treatment centers and community self-help groups.  Providing peer-led non-abstinence based support groups for those who have experienced an overdose and for their family members can make a genuine difference in getting individuals and families back on track.  The same goes for youth, for those who have lost a loved one to an overdose, or for opioid dependent individuals who are not benefitting from traditional treatment options.  Peer support specialists who are trained in crisis intervention, available during an emergency such as an overdose, who advocate for the overdose victim and their families, and who are well-versed in navigating addiction recovery services provide the glue that holds all of the Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care together.  Peer support service workers help to remove the barriers of stigma that come with substance abuse and dependence because they’ve been there.  They know the recovery ropes, they act as a partner for wellness, and they give hope to those suffering from substance use disorders.


The following is a list of ways that access to treatment has been expanded as a part of prescription medication overdose prevention efforts:


  • Negotiation and support for the opening of a satellite office-based drug treatment clinic using buprenorphine.

  • Encouraging doctors to get trained by SAMHSA to prescribe buprenorphine. Project Lazarus can assist in linking resources for this training.

  • Advocating for treatment services that have been proven to work.

  • Fighting misinformation on ineffective strategies of dealing with substance abuse.

  • Initiating peer support specialist services: Lazarus Recovery Services

  • Getting eligible people enrolled in Medicaid to access treatment services for free or at a reduced cost.

  • Treatment awareness campaigns, including real life success stories from relatable community members.

  • Opening a detox program.

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