Davisson: Prioritizing addiction treatment programs

Posted by: Lindsay Devlin  | Monday, February 22, 2016

The Indiana House of Representatives is working on our goal of combating the illegal drug epidemic plaguing Hoosier communities. As a member of the Public Health Committee, I am dedicated to curbing this epidemic and committed to supporting legislation to address these concerns.

I am co-sponsoring Senate Bill (SB) 297, which would expand access to opioid dependence treatment options for Hoosiers. The intent of this legislation is to get addicts off of drugs, detoxed and into treatment to help with their addiction. This legislation would allow those suffering from opioid or alcohol addiction to participate in an inpatient detoxification program if they are covered by Medicaid. The bill also specifies that the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) 2.0, which pays for medical costs, vision and dental coverage for Hoosiers age 19-64 who meet certain income qualifications, would include coverage of counseling services for substance abuse treatment. Inpatient detoxification occurs in an environment where the patient is constantly monitored during the withdrawal process and offered medication to treat symptoms. The cost of these treatments can be expensive, deterring individuals from seeking the help that they need.

Additionally, an individual who is physically and chemically addicted to a substance experiences various symptoms when they cease using. Common opioid withdrawal symptoms are: rapid heart rate, sweating, restlessness, dilated pupils, muscle and joint aches, runny nose or tearing, GI symptoms, tremor, yawning, anxiety and chills or goosebumps. This pain and uneasiness makes it exceedingly difficult for an individual to beat addiction. The Division of Mental Health and Addiction would be required to provide guidelines for the opioid therapy programs and establish recommendations of the best practices for patients.

An efficient opioid treatment program utilized under this legislation is Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT). Methadone is a synthetic opiate first employed during World War II that enables individuals to permanently cease opioid intake. Methadone operates by binding to the brain’s opioid receptors and relieving the physical need for a patient to use another opioid substance. Methadone does not induce a high or alter the user’s feelings in any form.

MMTs are a safe and effective program for individuals with opioid addiction. This legislation would establish better oversight of MMTs and other treatment options, as well as making treatment more affordable to Hoosiers. There are currently 13 methadone clinics in Indiana, only three of which operate as nonprofits. By providing coverage for these programs with health care providers, like HIP 2.0 and Medicaid, we are better ensuring Hoosiers from all economic backgrounds have access to inpatient detoxification treatment.

I welcome your input regarding this and other issues impacting our community. Please contact me by phone at 1-800-383-9841 or by email at h73@iga.in.gov.

-30-

Rep. Davisson represents parts of Washington, Orange, Lawrence, Jackson, Clark and Harrison Counties.