What was accomplished in the field of recovery during 2017? Here’s the honest answer: more than some believed possible and less than others had hoped.
As we take the year in review, we see many changes. From the highest levels of government to the smallest town meetings, substance abuse issues affected every individual across the nation this year. Some organizations saw major upheaval, while others offered steady growth in the areas of addiction recovery and treatment. And all have specific hopes and plans for 2018.
Here’s a quick overview of what various organizations achieved in 2017 and what might be in store for this year.
In the area of policies and funding, 2017 saw new ideas and legislation. President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. He formed the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. This committee issued sound recommendations to guide policies in 2018.
- The Excellence in Mental Health Act authorized Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics to expand services by: increasing staff, broadening existing crisis services, and integrating mental illness and substance use treatments. This expansion created new addiction recovery resources for communities that desperately needed them.
- Support of recovery efforts on both sides of the party line resulted in continued funding and provision for insurance and Medicaid coverage of substance abuse disorders.
- The Justice Department Civil Rights Division offered a new initiative to remove discriminatory barriers to treatment services.
Medical Community Changes
The push to accept substance abuse as a chronic brain disease made large strides this year. More and more members of the community have begun to see chemical dependency as something our current infrastructure and approach cannot appropriately handle. This shift in thinking resulted in:
- Addiction medicine being recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties
- A total of 16 healthcare plans being endorsed by the National Principles of Care for Addiction
- New policies being passed by the American Correctional Association on medication assisted treatment (MAT)
- Advanced practice practitioners were given the ability to prescribe buprenorphine to extend the reach of MAT
In 2017, we saw a big push for awareness issues. City after city saw the undeniable impact of our nation’s opioid epidemic and towns across America responded by hosting community coalitions and forums. The word is out there. People know it’s a problem, and they know treatment is available.
With marijuana legalization laws changing, issues concerning this drug also rose to the surface in 2017. The National Council for Behavioral Health co-hosted the first-ever national cannabis summit to discuss medical and recreational use, benefits, and issues. More states continue to lean toward potential legalization in the future.
In truth, 2018 is likely to be another year of hot debate over the marijuana issue and continued new-law proposals regarding cannabis usage.
Do we still have a lot more to accomplish? Absolutely! In fact, 2018 holds the potential for additional breakthroughs in recovery and expanded access to treatment. Policy changes could also cause setbacks in these areas. Potential treatment and recovery issues this year include:
- Expansion of opioid prevention and treatment services: It’s a “public health emergency.” Treatment providers hope federal and state funding will be made available to implement the necessary responses to this crisis.
- Protecting privacy and rights of those in recovery: Legal departments hope to take up this cause to ensure policies are in place to protect these rights.
- Medicaid restrictions based on drug testing Policy makers sit on both sides of this fence. Should drug tests prevent people from receiving aid?
- Potential for increased treatment under Medicare: Legislators continue to examine what, if any, programs should be covered under this umbrella.
- Increased access to MAT: Many healthcare professionals hope that improved awareness and greater numbers of medical professionals qualified to administer this treatment will increase the general access to MAT.
- Appropriate training for clinicians: The country is coming up short on recovery treatment service providers. Healthcare providers hope for solid training and funding to properly train a workforce to handle the load.
- Improved recovery supports in the criminal justice, child welfare and healthcare systems: Addiction and recovery are intertwined in all of these systems, requiring cooperation between departments and integrated support for those in need.
In 2017, our society really began to open its eyes to the problems of addiction. Let’s hope 2018 will be the year of solutions.
Additional Reading: 7 Ways the Gov’t Could Help the Nation’s Drug Crisis
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