Mental Health in America: An Interview with Patrick Kennedy

Patrick Kennedy was recently interviewed by about breaking down barriers to addiction treatment and other hot button issues.

Below is an excerpt from the interview. Read the entire interview: at

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 44 people in the United States die from overdose of prescription drugs every day, with opioids a leading cause. How do we reconcile the legitimate medical need for these drugs with the reality that they are overprescribed, abused, and in many cases highly addictive? What’s the answer?

We need reform across the board when it comes to addressing the nation’s opioid crisis. Obviously, there needs to be changes within the provider community, within the insurer community, and within the advocacy community. What’s the answer for the over 2 million people who are already addicted in this country? Every research study that’s been done has shown that opioid replacement therapy is the standard evidence-based treatment model, but too many people are being denied this treatment because there aren’t enough doctors who can prescribe medications like buprenorphine or naltrexone, and we have artificial treatment caps created by outdated policy that limit the number of patients these doctors can treat with these methods. We have obsolete policies in place that prevent doctors from treating patients suffering from opioid addiction according to clinical guidelines and best practices—you would never see that with any other disease, and it’s not acceptable with this one, either. Opioid replacement therapy, in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy and peer support, can and does help people achieve long-term recovery, and we must ensure all patients who need this comprehensive approach can access it.

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