Have you noticed that there is an ever increasing number of people and organizations coming out in support of the use of a Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) modality in the Alcohol and Chemical Dependency Treatment field? It starts at the top with President Obama, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and filters down.
Efforts are being made to allow Physicians the ability to prescribe buprenorphine (Suboxone) to an even larger number of patients. These patients are addicts who have either been unable to stop taking drugs or haven’t reached that stage where they want and ask for help to stop taking drugs.
But the thing I find truly fascinating and intriguing is that Physician Impairment Programs, which are designed to help Doctors stop drinking or taking drugs, don’t allow Physicians to participate in Medically Assisted Treatment. Why is that?
Is there something that Doctors and their Impairment Programs know but aren’t sharing with the rest of us? Is it because Medically Assisted Treatment doesn’t work? Is it because Medically Assisted Treatment doesn’t work on Physicians? Is it because Physicians are not able to safely practice medicine or perform surgery under the influence of buprenorphine? How many jobs are not able to be performed safely or productively for those who are in a Medically Assisted Treatment program? Can it only be the jobs of Physicians?
If it’s not good enough for Physicians, how is it good enough for everyone else? Have Physicians been carved out as a special class of people who need a different type of treatment? If so, what is that type of treatment?
Could this be the beginning of a new drug treatment philosophy that divides patients into two classes? Is this the beginning of a new health care paradigm? Ok for most but not good enough for some!
In the rush to expand and force feed Medically Assisted Treatment onto the Alcohol and Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Treatment Industry, these are legitimate questions that need to be answered by those responsible for implementing Medically Assisted Treatment.
Robert Piccone, M.S. | President | Clearbrook Treatment Centers