Advocates for Opioid Recovery

Every 19 min. a person dies from the cycle of opioid addiction.

Rewrite the Prescription

on opioid treatment

The Epidemic

Opioid overdose is now the #1 cause of accidental death in America[1]

47,000 people died
in 2014 from drug overdose[1]
200% increase in opioid-related deaths
since 2000[1]

Traditional treatment leads to relapse 85% of the time, creating a vicious rehab/addiction cycle.[3]

Nobody wants to wake up in the morning looking to alienate their family and friends. Nobody chooses to be separated from their social circles. Nobody makes the conscious decision to put their careers in jeopardy. But that’s what addiction to opioids does. Addiction is a disease—and it’s one that I have lived with. I work every day on my recovery, and my hope is that my experience can be a beacon of hope for others seeking a life free from addiction.

Patrick J. Kennedy

New Science = New Hope

Medication is the most effective path to long term recovery

More people completed a six-month treatment program when they used recovery medication[2]

Recovery medication improves outcomes

  1. Decreases fatal overdoses

    One study showed that increasing the availability of recovery medication led to 50% fewer fatal overdoses.[3]

  2. Decreases illicit opioid use

    40% of patients being treated with medication did not relapse, compared to 28% without medication.[2]

  3. Reduces repeat criminal activity

    Decreased the likelihood of drug relapse, overdose and recidivism among former inmates and increased their likelihood of remaining in long-term drug treatment.[4]

  4. Improves birth outcomes

    Improves birth outcomes among pregnant women who have substance use disorders compared with no recovery medication treatment.[5]

Thousands of people are dying waiting for access to opioid addiction treatment.

Nearly 80 percent[6] of people with opioid addiction—over 1.9 million people—do not receive treatment.[6]

Individuals who are unable to access appropriate treatment for opioid use disorders are at substantial risk for substance abuse, criminal activity, infectious disease including HIV and hepatitis, overdose, and premature death.[8]

Break Down the Barriers

  1. Expand treatment capacity

    Less than 3% of US physicians can prescribe recovery medications. Most of them have waiting lists.

    • Raise the cap: The federal government must eliminate, or at minimum raise, the arbitrary 100 patient treatment cap per eligible physician to 500.
    • Allow physician assistants and nurse practitioners to prescribe recovery medications at the same rates as physicians. Currently, PAs and NPs are held to the old arbitrary caps of treating 30 patients for the first year, and 100 patients thereafter.
  2. Improve insurance coverage

    Insurance plans and Medicaid should eliminate “fail first” programs or lifetime medication limits for opioid recovery medication.

  3. Help veterans

    Veterans are twice as likely to die from a drug overdose.[9] Special focus should be given to ensure open access to recovery medication treatment for America's veterans.

  4. Encourage treatment through drug courts and prisons

    Local and state policies exist that prevent convicted criminals from using recovery medication. Prohibitions must stop and treatment should be encouraged.

  5. Educate others

    If you know of a person affected by opioid addiction, tell them about treatment with medication and share this physician locator tool.

  6. Change your mind

    Some people have been resistant to using a medication to treat a medication-based addiction and believe that total abstinence is the only legitimate path forward. The evidence does not support this belief.

It’s time we rewrite the prescription for treating opioid addiction.

Follow the science and do your part to encourage the use of recovery medication.

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). (2016). Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths — United States, 2000-2014. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6450a3.htm?s_cid=mm6450a3_w

2. Ling W, Casadonte P, Bigelow G, et al.: Buprenorphine implants for treatment of opioid dependence: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 304:1576 1583, 2010 CrossRef, Medline)

3. Schwartz RP, Gryczynski J, O'Grady KE, et al. Opioid agonist treatments and heroin overdose deaths in Baltimore, Maryland, 1995-2009. Am J Public Health 2013;103:917-922

4. Nunn, Amy et al. “Methadone and Buprenorphine Prescribing and Referral Practices in US Prison Systems: Results from a Nationwide Survey.” Drug and alcohol dependence 105.1-2 (2009): 83–88. PMC. Web. 17 June 2016.

5. Thomas, Cindy Parks, Catherine Anne Fullerton, Meelee Kim, Leslie Montejano, D. Russell Lyman, Richard H. Dougherty, Allen S. Daniels, Sushmita Shoma Ghose, and Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon. "Medication-Assisted Treatment With Buprenorphine: Assessing the Evidence." PS Psychiatric Services 65.2 (2014): 158-70

6. CL Arfken, CE Johanson, S diMenza et.al., “Expanding treatment capacity for opioid dependence with buprenorphine: National surveys of physicians.” Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, September 2010.

7. “Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health,” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services 7dministration, September 2015

8. Sigmon, Stacey C. “Access to Treatment for Opioid Dependence in Rural America: Challenges and Future Directions” University of Vermont, February 5, 2014.

9. Bohnert AS, Ilgen MA, Galea S, et al. (2011) Accidental poisoning mortality among patients in the Department of Veterans Affairs Health System. Med Care. 2011 Apr;49(4):393-6. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21407033