More Than 28 Looks to Ensure “Individual Treatment for Individuals”, with Substance Use Issues

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Image commercially licensed from: https://unsplash.com/photos/man-sitting-on-sofa-f_aHTIof44U

40 million Americans are dealing with substance use issues, that is according to the recently released 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Of those, only 3 million received addiction treatment at an inpatient or outpatient facility. This comes at a time when we are losing over 100,000 Americans a year to overdose deaths, twice as many as were dying at the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1990’s. As with HIV/AIDS, the persistent stigma associated with substance use disorders can discourage people from seeking help. Addicts, and I count myself as one though my drug of choice was alcohol, are still seen as weak willed or morally suspect. Several factors work against individuals seeking to break free from the cycle of addiction: the physical and psychological dependence on substances, a lack of healthcare providers familiar with treatment options, and the cost and availability of quality treatment.

Recovery not only saves lives, but it also restores individuals and their families to functional, fulfilling lives. In my own personal experience as both a patient and an administrator, I have seen how some addiction treatment facilities, despite insurance coverage, can be inaccessible either financially or logistically , leaving many without access to the care that they need. The journey for sobriety is a lifelong process, and not everyone will be successful after a single stay in a detox and rehab facility. It can, many times, require recurring stays in treatment and ongoing care and support in the form of counseling, therapy, support groups, and medical intervention. Recent research from Harvard’s Recovery Research Institute shows that it takes five years of continuous sobriety until the risk of moving back into active addiction is no greater than in the general population.

I have had the privilege to work on opioid policy in the U.S. Department of Labor and now work with patients in the addiction treatment industry. I founded More Than 28, to increase insurance coverage for addiction treatment. We now recognize that addiction is a chronic condition, and managing requires a lifetime commitment. The idea that addiction can be treated in one 28 day stay is an outdated model from decades ago. It continues only because most insurance will not cover residential treatment beyond 28 days, leaving patients with no other choice but to move to a lower level of care. More Than 28 seeks to advocate for individual care for those who need it, bringing the process of recovery out of an actuarial table and into real lived experience. 

There is a lot of advocacy around what approach to addiction treatment is best. Some favor harm reduction, medication assisted treatment, abstinence based, or 12-step programs. Where our advocacy is different at MT28 is that we want longer stays and an easier claims process for all of it. Every approach has value, and with as many as 40 million Americans in need we need more of all of it.

Congress passed the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) in 2008 to make treatment more accessible, 15 years later 44% of adults with insurance surveyed said that cost was the reason they did not engage with services. The Biden administration is currently proposing a series of measures that will continue to try and close the gap between medical and mental health/substance use coverage, but that time cannot come too soon. We must all share our experience, strength, and hope for those suffering from this disease.

To learn more about More Than 28’s ideals and dedication to this cause, visit us at www.morethan28.com. 

(Ambassador)

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