On Wednesday, The Hill convened policymakers and medical experts to discuss steps to expand access to treatment and help those living with opioid addiction begin the journey toward long-term recovery. During a conversation with Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY), Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons praised the National Council for its work to bridge the gap between mental health and addiction treatment and highlighted the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act (S. 824/ H.R. 1767) as a legislative effort to address these issues.
The event, titled “America’s Opioid Epidemic: Lessons Learned & a Way Forward,” discussed the various factors that have fueled the overdose epidemic that took 70,000 American lives in 2017 alone, what progress has been made in fighting the issue, and promising paths forward to a solution. Speakers reminded attendees that there are no “one-size-fits-all” solutions, but that ending the crisis will take collaboration from every corner of the country addressing multiple concerns. Individuals living with addiction must receive treatment when and where they need it in modalities that are personalized to their unique situations. Families and communities must become involved in the prevention, treatment, and recovery processes and must continue work to destigmatize the disease of addiction.
Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Dave Joyce (R-OH) discussed legislative solutions to address an array of the issues brought up during the event, including the following bills that are endorsed by the National Council:
- The Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act (H.R. 2482): Bipartisan bill that would remove burdensome waiver requirements so health care providers can more easily prescribe buprenorphine, effectively expanding access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
- The Medication Access and Training Expansion Act (H.R. 4974): Bipartisan bill that would standardize substance use disorder training for providers that prescribe Drug Enforcement Agency scheduled medications, such as those used in MAT.
- The Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act (S. 1365/H.R. 2569): Bicameral bill that would invest $100 billion in federal funds over ten years to address various facets of the opioid crisis.
Speakers at the event included Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Rep. Paul Tonko, Rep. Dave Joyce, Dr. Anika Alvanzo, Regional Director, American Society of Addiction Medicine, Dr. Christina Andrews, Associate Professor, University of South Carolina, Walter Ginter, Founding Project Director, Medication Assisted Recovery Support, Monique Tula, Executive Director, Harm Reduction Coalition, and Shaun Thaxter, CEO, Indivior. Watch a recording of the full event below: