As most people know by now, there is an ongoing problem with the rise of painkiller drug abuse in the United States recently. The problem continues to claim more and more lives, including those of teens and young people, with no real obvious cure all solutions on the horizon.
That said, people are doing what they can to help. Treatment centers have responded to the crisis as best they can, and even insurance companies are trying to do their part to help. According to Managed Health Care Executive http://managedhealthcareexecutive.modernmedicine.com/managed-healthcare-executive/news/insurer-no-more-prior-auths-opioid-addiction-meds, “The misuse of opioids has taken a terrible toll in America, which is why Cigna is committed to reducing opioid use among our customers by 25% in three years.”
How are the doing that? How can an insurance company help in the fight against opiate addiction, you ask?
One way is by eliminating barriers to getting medications which can help in the fight against addiction. They refer to such medications as MAT, or “medication assisted treatment.” The problem is that these medications are often quite difficult to obtain and they often require a prior authorization in order to be covered by insurance companies.
As PT Community https://www.ptcommunity.com/pharmdcorner/knocking-down-walls-cigna-ends-preauthorization-opioid-addiction-treatment says about prior authorizations, “The process could delay the initiation of treatment by several days and affect the chances of it succeeding.”
Timing is critical when it comes to addiction treatment. In fact, you could even argue that all of addiction treatment comes down to essentially nothing more than timing, and that the rest is merely details. In other words, if the struggling addict is ready to take action and make a change, then this all that really matters. You can take them to any treatment center, you can give them virtually any form of help that may be available, and if they are ready for recovery and to make a serious change, then whatever resources that you provide for them will work out just fine.
But the key is that they need those resources now, right away, when they become willing to take action.
If a struggling addict declares that they are ready to give sobriety a chance, and you say to that person “OK great, just wait ten days now and we will help you out with that,” then how helpful is that really? Isn’t it likely that an addict or alcoholic is going to succumb to temptation in that ten day period? Wouldn’t you expect that to happen, given the nature of their disease?
Therefore this is a bold and important move by Cigna, and hopefully other insurance companies will quickly follow suit. The need for swift timing in treating addiction is critical. It doesn’t make any sense to make a person wait if they are ready for change. This can be a problem with inpatient treatment centers as well, because many times they will be full of clients and if someone wants to check in immediately they are made to wait, and the opportunity can be lost.
No, if we are going to address the problem of opiate addiction and opiate abuse then we need to start eliminating more and more of these barriers and really attack the problem from every angle. This means that not only do we need better access to MAT via insurance companies making things easier, but we also need more access to treatment centers, more access to twelve step programs, and so on.
Recovery from addiction is a very unique problem and every person seems to respond to slightly different solutions. Not everyone does well in the 12 step program, for example. Not everyone does well with MAT either. Some people seem to really benefit from having additional counseling and therapy with their treatment, while others just need to hit 12 step meetings. There doesn’t seem to be a single set formula that is going to be perfect for everyone. This is why it is so important to explore the various methods of recovery and find out what works best for each individual.
Of course before you can get started in recovery you have to at least surrender and agree to try to change your life for the better. One of the problems with MAT is that many people who elect to use MAT do not have a proactive approach to the rest of their recovery challenges. Meaning that they expect for MAT to solve all of their problems and make it so that they don’t really have to go to AA or NA meetings, counseling, therapy, or do much of any work outside of just taking a pill every day or getting a shot every once in a while. This is a problem because such a person is not using a holistic approach to recovery and they are also not drawing upon all of their possible resources.
I want you to do an experiment if you are doubting the message here: Go to an AA or NA meeting and ask the people after the meeting is over if they had to use every possible resource at their disposal in order to make it through early recovery. Ask them if they had to fight harder than they have ever had to fight before in their life just to make it through that first few months of sobriety without relapsing.
The truth is that everyone struggles at first and recovery is really tough. That doesn’t mean that you cannot be successful, however. What it means is that you need to be realistic. It means that you need to fight harder for your sobriety than you have ever fought in your past. This is it, this is game time. Make sure that you are using every resource that is available to you, and take advantage of every bit of help that is offered to you.
So if you are at inpatient treatment for 28 days and a therapist asks you if you would like to set up aftercare with a counselor, or a therapist, or group therapy, your answer should be “yes, definitely.” If you are hedging on that answer while you are in treatment then this is a very strong sign that you are not done using yet.
No, in order to truly be done with addiction and ready to embrace recovery, you need to be willing to say “yes” to every recovery opportunity and resource. This may or may not include things such as MAT, counseling, therapy, 12 step meetings, and so on. Ask for help, go to treatment, and then follow directions. When professionals give you advice, my suggestion would be to take that advice and put it into action. Do whatever you can in order to give yourself every possible advantage in recovery.