The nation is responding to the opioid epidemic by pouring money and resources into increasing access to addiction treatment. But these critical expansion efforts must be accompanied by initiatives to improve accountability of addiction providers to deliver quality care. There are more than 14,000 specialty addiction treatment programs in the US. Although addiction can be treated with the same effectiveness as other chronic diseases, there is significant variability in the nature and quality of treatment services offered by these addiction providers. The major therapeutic component in virtually all these programs is group counseling, instead of a comprehensive set of treatment modalities that are consonant with evidence-based best practices. In fact, less than 20 percent of programs prescribe any of the four medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat opioid or alcohol use disorders. As a result, patients do not find available services helpful: On average, a third of patients discontinue treatment within two weeks of treatment initiation—far less than is recommended.
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