Monday, March 2, 2015

New York in Crisis and Policy Makers Ignore the Science

When I say Substance Use Treatment is the Worst Treatment I Ever Had, is not because the treatment itself when done scientifically with appropriate medical protocol is bad. My complain is that most methadone clinic continuo to ignore the Federal Guidelines and rarely if ever read science and follow science evidence of effectiveness and best practice, but rather because of the clinics and the policy makers IGNORE THEM and the patients are the ones that suffer.  I happen to believe that this is medical malpractice, but can never find an attorney willing to take this clinics and policy makers on. After all we are the most HATED patients in the system.

Here is an example, please do not ignore the since and stop acting capriciously.

New York Plunging into a Disaster
New York like many other states across the country is in the middle of a heroin epidemic.  Last Fall Governor Cuomo launched a Combat Heroin Campaign and this week Senator Schumer called on more Federal funding to combat the growing heroin epidemic. So what does the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) do; the agency in charge of treatment in the state?  They are closing 5 methadone programs in the Bronx!  Methadone treatment has been demonstrated to be the most effective treatment for opiate addiction.
The owners of Narco Freedom have been indicted on criminal charges of insurance fraud, money laundering, bribery and grand larceny.  The state has removed them from managing the program and that leaves us with the patients. These 3200 patients at NARCO FREEDOM are in comprehensive treatment consisting of medication in conjunction with counseling and other appropriate services. Many have gotten their lives back together and are engaged in productive activity. What is the state’s best solution for the health and well-being of these patients? Close the 5 programs down, take away any privileges the patients have earned over the course of their treatment, assign them to Interim Treatment. 
Interim Treatment requires patients to come daily for medication without the required comprehensive services. Interim Treatment was developed over 20 years ago during the HIV epidemic because many OTPs had waiting lists and to get drug users at least the minimum of treatment until a place was open on a comprehensive program. It was never intended to move patients from a comprehensive program into minimum treatment.
Whenever a program closes typically 10-15% of the patients do not make it to their new program. They relapse to active drug use.  Even those patients that manage to make the transition will have to rearrange work and school hours to come to Interim treatment every day. In addition the state which currently has no Sunday treatment is planning on sending these patients to our already overcrowded emergency rooms to get their Sunday medication.  This is not a solution to the problem.
The National Alliance for Medication Assisted Recovery (NAMA-R) urges that the Governor Cuomo step in and order OASAS to find new ownership to take over these programs.
This is by far the best solution for the patients and will cost the state nothing!

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