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Addiction Treatment Is Crucial To Stop The Epidemic

Currently, millions of American lives are directly or indirectly affected by substance abuse and addiction and need addiction treatment. Statistical data shows that untreated addiction has strained healthcare systems and increased crime, poverty, and mortality rates across the U.S.

The magnitude of this national public health concern impacts all stratifications of society, regardless of socioeconomic factors such as income, age, gender, ethnicity, race, education, and occupation. 

In response to the increasing prevalence of addiction, measures are continuously being taken to address the lack of availability and accessibility to treatment, especially in rural and low-income metropolitan areas of the U.S.

State-Wide Initiatives to Increase Addiction Treatment Availability

Many states have been taking the initiative to develop programs and increase access to treatment. For example, Massachusetts rehabs have increased their capacity and range of services to treat more people with substance use disorders. 

In efforts to expand addiction treatment through primary care, Massachusetts General Hospital established its Bridge Clinic, which provides medical services for patients who struggle to get treatment through traditional primary care providers. 

Many rehab centers, treatment programs, Medicare insurance policies, harm reduction programs, and non-profit organizations have expanded to meet growing demand and need for addiction treatment and behavioral healthcare services.

Costs of Treatment Services

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, untreated addiction costs the U.S. over $600 million annually. These costs can be significantly reduced by clinical treatment. 

Costs of treatment are much less expensive than the alternatives, such as incarceration, and other social and health costs of substance use disorders. 

The average cost of methadone maintenance treatment for a whole year is $4,700, as opposed to $24,000 per person serving a year in prison. 

Treatment also saves costs related to overdoses, health problems, domestic conflicts, criminal justice, crime, theft, unemployment, and other consequences of addiction. 

Statistics on Treatment Facilities

Based on data collected for reporting substance abuse treatment statistics, there are just over 16,000 recognized treatment facilities in the U.S.

Most facilities are located in California. The states with the highest numbers of patients receiving treatment in facilities are New York, California, and Ohio.

Just over one million patients received treatment at rehab centers in 2020, and 39,000 of them were under the age of 18. 

Here’s what these treatment centers offer:

  • 82% of facilities offer outpatient treatment services
  • 19% of facilities offer long-term residential services
  • 95.8% of facilities provide opioid detoxification services
  • 51% of facilities offer programs specifically for women
  • 10,759 facilities provide pharmacotherapy treatment

Statistics on Receipt of Treatment Services

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 1.6% of people twelve and older, roughly 4 million, received treatment for substance use disorders in 2020.

This was broken down further into the following estimates for people 12 and older:

  • 1.8 million people received treatment through self-help groups
  • 1.8 million people received outpatient treatment at rehab facilities
  • 1.4 million people received outpatient treatment at mental health centers
  • 1.1 million people received inpatient treatment at rehab facilities
  • 1.1 million people received treatment through primary care
  • Smaller numbers of people received treatment at hospitals, emergency rooms, or in jail or prison

Regarding the receipt of treatment in general versus at specialty facilities, 6.5% of people 12 and older who had been diagnosed with substance use disorders actually received treatment of any sort, and 1% received treatment at a specialty facility. 

According to the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, 23.5 million adults in the U.S. are in recovery from alcoholism or drug addictions. 

23 million Americans ages 12 and older need treatment for substance use disorders, yet only 10% receive treatment, and 11% have received treatment at a recognized facility. 

Barriers to Addiction Treatment

Some of the main barriers to providing quality treatment to patients have to do with primary care providers. Many primary care doctors still have reservations about treating patients with substance use disorders.

This is partially due to a lack of financial incentives, fears and qualms about medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and the lingering stigmas surrounding addiction. 

Overcoming Barriers to Treatment

In attempts to overcome some of these barriers, medical schools and residency programs have started incorporating addiction treatment in their curricula to mainstream this area of medicine. 

Some insurance companies and state Medicaid programs have updated their policies to cover the costs of addiction treatment to incentivize physicians to treat substance use disorders and encourage patients to seek professional treatment. 

Policymakers and primary care providers need to maintain awareness of the chronic nature of addiction, and that sustainable abstinence requires long-term treatment.

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