The national relapse rates for patients with opiate use disorder are at a staggering 90% or greater, and the immediate and fatal danger from using one more time has drastically increased the need for MAT -(Medication Assisted Treatment Florida) in the fight against addiction. This is due to the complex and multifaceted factors addiction treatment centers face, the limited time centers have from the insurance companies to address this epidemic, and all the unique issues that their clients are experiencing. MAT – (Medication Assisted Treatment Florida) helps bridge the gap in many cases by eliminating withdrawal and cravings, stabilizing the patient, and allowing him or her to begin working an effective therapeutic regimen.

MAT’s success rates, measured by preservation of life, are the highest of any treatment available (some sources estimate this rate at around 60%). MAT – (Medication Assisted Treatment Florida) is one of the most effective tools for some patients to fight addiction, and it can save lives from overdose due to unknown additives in the nebulous “powder” the patient is using (i.e. fentanyl, carfentanyl), as well as the potency of street heroin. However, MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment Florida) is certainly not a “cure” for addiction and is not appropriate for all patients. The extent to which any doctor can help a patient with substance use disorders is limited by the medications which are currently approved by the FDA for this use (i.e. buprenorphine and naltrexone products), a patient’s individual circumstances, and requires a highly trained and experienced physician to properly administer this treatment.

ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine), our surgeon general, Presidents Trump and Obama, addiction medicine physicians in the trenches, and addiction professionals agree that addiction is a chronic disease. We have a national heroin and prescription opioid epidemic killing more than 250 a day. This needs to be addressed immediately and in a concerted, multi-factorial approach. The traditional, current treatment paradigms are not successful to any meaningful extent in dealing with this epidemic, and are simply not adapting to the realities of this dire situation.

A recent CNN article detailed some alarming statistics: “heroin-related deaths increased 439% from 1999 to 2014. As of 2014, heroin-related deaths had more than tripled in five years and quintupled in 10 years. In 2014, opioids were involved in 28,647 deaths — 61% of all US drug overdose deaths — and 10,574 were related to heroin.

Data from 2014 reflects “two distinct but interrelated trends,” the CDC notes- a long-term increase in overdose deaths due to prescription opioids and a surge in illicit opioid overdose deaths, mostly related to heroin”.

Addiction is a chronic disease

  • Drug addiction is  chronic disorder like diabetes, high blood pressure or asthma.
  • Treatment is essential  – sometimes repeated treatment and prolonged treatment is needed.
  • Treatment is behavior-based and medical based.

Addiction is a “disease model” defined by ASAM: ”a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry”. Also, as part of a recent landmark statement, the US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, distinctly stated that addiction is “a chronic illness that we must approach with the same skill and compassion with which we approach heart disease, diabetes, and cancer”. President Obama’s 2017 fiscal year budget included $920 million to support cooperative agreements with States to expand access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. This is based on clinical evidence of the successes of MAT – (Medication Assisted Treatment Florida) of the chronic disease of addiction, and increases the likelihood of abstinence from the illicit substance and decreases the probability of overdose and death.