The overprescribing of opioids has led to 11.5 million people misusing opioids. The total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, which includes costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement. The negative health and economic consequences of this opioid crisis demand solutions: 1) to reduce the number of new cases of opioid use disorder; and, 2) for better treatment of the 2+ million Americans suffering from Opioid Use Disorder (sometimes called “addiction” in the vernacular).
Methadone treatment barriers
The negative social stigma associated with addiction has prevented many individuals from seeking the treatment necessary to overcome it.
Methadone for opioid use disorder is only dispensed in Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs), typically only during fixed operating hours. Current regulations make it extremely difficult for patients to access more than one dose of methadone at a time. Daily clinic attendance makes it difficult to maintain a job, especially when clinic hours are limited. Travel time is another barrier to staying in the treatment program.
The cost of treatment isn’t always covered by insurance. Patients may not have the resources to cover daily travel and child care expenses.