INDIANAPOLIS – A new state law that goes into effect this summer seeks to help more patients recovering from opioid addiction access maintenance medication. But legislators want to make sure the change doesn’t make the drug crisis worse.
“It’s really hitting the Midwest states the hardest I think,” Chase Cotten, executive director of The Willow Center, said of the opioid epidemic.
For some recovering addicts, therapy at centers like Cotten’s is an important part of their treatment. Some also see a doctor to obtain opioid maintenance medication, which is used to get them off the drug entirely.
“The best doctors will prescribe it in a weaning way, so they put a model in place where they’re on it for a temporary period of time in conjunction with therapy and group services,” Cotten said.
Current state law grants providers permission to treat eligible patients with this medication seven days at a time. But starting in July, a new law will allow doctors to get permission from the state for 14 days worth of medication to lessen disruption to treatment.
“Whether you’re on it for a week or on it for three months, as long as you’re using it as prescribed, it can be used to help you eventually reach abstinence,” Cotten said.
But the new law allows legislators to monitor the treatment’s impact more closely.
“If we’re going to make medications more accessible, then we’re going to have to get more detail in the reporting,” said State Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis), a co-author of the bill.
According to State Rep. Shackleford, that detail will be included in an annual report from the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction. It will track information like the durations of treatments and how many were approved and revoked.
“We’ve added more criteria in the reporting to make sure that with this increase, we are not being detrimental to people’s health,” Shackleford said.
This form of treatment is not for everyone, Cotten said, and for those who use the drug, it’s only a portion of their recovery plan.