ASAM Announces National Guidelines for Medications In Addiction Treatment

By John Lavitt 09/24/15

Dr. Jeffrey Goldsmith led a press conference aimed at changing the way we combat opioid addiction.

Dr. Jeffrey Goldsmith
Dr. Jeffrey Goldsmith

During a press conference this morning, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) officially released its National Practice Guidelines for the Use of Medications in the Treatment of Addiction Involving Opioid Use and related products. Led by Dr. R. Jeffery Goldsmith, the President of ASAM Board of Directors, the guidelines as presented in Washington, D.C., are a direct response to the national opioid abuse and addiction crisis.

Attended by the federal leaders of the recovery community, live statements of support were delivered by Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse; Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Kana Enomoto, the acting administrator of SAMHSA; and June Sivilli, the chief of the Treatment Branch at the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

In an interview with The Fix, Dr. Goldsmith expressed the importance of these new guidelines. “Currently less than 30% of treatment centers offer medications to treat opioid addiction, and only half of the patients in those treatment centers eligible for medications receive them," Dr. Goldsmith said. "As a result, there is a significant gap between those who need treatment and those who receive it. By implementing this guideline, treatment professionals can better manage the condition of opioid addiction and prevent relapse and overdose.”

The three-pronged goal of the guidelines and related products are:

  1. Alter the prescribing patterns for pain medications and prescription painkillers through guideline development and physician education.
  2. Expanding naloxone access to front line providers to prevent overdoses along with the Evzio device for safe administration.
  3. Expanding and standardizing the use of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), particularly buprenorphine and methadone, in recovery settings and rehab facilities.

The Treatment Research Institute was chosen by ASAM to develop the language of the guidelines. Dedicated to reducing the impact of addiction by employing scientific methods and disseminating evidence-based information, the institute employed the RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Methodology. The new guidelines are focused on Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and Evidence-Based Results.

Resistance to MAT has come from traditional abstinence-based treatment programs that resist treatment medications mainly due to a traditional 12-step orientation.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.