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Policy guide outlines addiction roadmap

December 3, 2015
by Julie Miller, Editor in Chief
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The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASAColumbia), a nonprofit research and policy organization, this week released its new guide for policymakers that includes science-based recommendations aimed at helping to reduce addiction and risky substance use.

Authors used an extensive amount of reference material in researching the rationale behind their recommendations. The goal of the report is to inform the industry and policymakers on measures to drive improved prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management, but authors warn that improvement will require sustained, systematic efforts at many levels.

The guide is 100 pages, but here are the condensed highlights among CASAColumbia recommendations:

  • Improved standards for practice. Programs should use evidence-based treatment, and clinicians should be licensed and trained.
  • Accreditation. Programs should be accredited as a condition of licensure.
  • Full range of support. Programs should offer psychosocial and pharmaceutical treatments as well as services for co-occurring disorders.
  • Detox. Programs should offer detox services linked to treatment.
  • Diversion. Individuals should be diverted from correctional facilities by after care programs and drug courts, including those that promote medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
  • Changes in law. Judicial discretion should be used for substance-involved individuals, rather than mandatory sentencing.
  • Performance. Providers in publicly funded programs should adopt evidence-based practices, institute quality improvement and assess outcomes.
  • Long-term management. Individuals should have access to long-term medical management.
  • Auxiliary support services. Training, employment, housing, 12-Step and other programs should be accessible.

CASAColumbia makes recommendations for the health system at large as well as the criminal justice system. Authors call for a number of other priorities, some of which include:

  • Comprehensive insurance coverage for addiction treatment, including MAT.
  • Parity enforcement.
  • Increased Medicaid expansion in states.
  • Provider performance conditions in insurance contracts.
  • Adequate provider networks among insurers.
  • Increased use of screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment.
  • Patient education.
  • Provider education.
  • Increased use of prescription drug monitoring programs.