Methadone clinics double in Colorado in 3 years — residents still lack access to addiction treatment

Over the last three years, the number of methadone clinics in Colorado increased from 11 to 23. However, access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction in the state remains limited, according to a report from The Denver Post

Here are five things to know.

1. The number of new admissions at highly regulated opioid treatment programs in Colorado increased from 1,388 in 2013 to 3,566 in fiscal year 2017. According to federal numbers cited by The Denver Post, there were more than 5,000 methadone patients across the state as of last week. However, this increased treatment availability falls does not meet current needs, as there are currently more than 10,000 intravenous drug users in the Denver metro area alone, according to data from the Harm Reduction Action Center cited by the The Denver Post.

2. The increase in methadone clinics in Colorado coincides with a 2014 rule change allowing Medicaid to reimburse clinics for methadone treatment. Despite this change, federal regulations still hinder the availability of medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction. Of the estimated 22,000 people in Colorado with opioid addiction, just 4,000 receive treatment at clinics, according to a Colorado Health Institute report cited by the The Denver Post.

3. Federal law requires physicians to complete eight hours of training before they're able to legally prescribe medications such as methadone or buprenorphine. In the first year after certification, physicians can only prescribe opioid addiction medication to just 30 patients.

"Not once in medical school did I have to take a class that was eight hours dedicated to one specific medication," said Daniel Bebo, MD, an addictionologist at UCHealth Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation (CeDAR) in Aurora, a 30-day residential addiction treatment center, according to The Denver Post.

4. Since last April, the state office of behavioral health services has used grants to help register 235 physicians to prescribe opioid addiction therapies, which would nearly double the current number of Colorado physicians able to prescribe the drug. Still, 31 of Colorado's 64 counties don't have a methadone clinic or a physician that can prescribe buprenorphine, according to The Denver Post.

5. Medicaid does not cover residential treatment for opioid addiction, so patients either use private insurance or pay out-of-pocket when seeking treatment at places like CeDAR.

"We're in the middle of a health care crisis and we've got empty beds," Dr. Bebo told The Denver Post. "That's the depressing part."

More articles on opioids: 
Senate Democrats urge GAO to investigate White House opioid response: 4 things to know 
Baltimore sues opioid manufacturers, distributors 
Colorado county 1st in state to file opioid lawsuit against drug companies

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars