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The Department of Defense (DoD) recently announced plans to allow for expanded addiction treatment services for members of the military covered by Tricare. According to an article in the Military Times, new rules will take effect November 21st that will include coverage for long-term opioid replacement therapy as maintenance drugs.
Previously, drugs like methadone and buprenorphine were only approved for short-term use and chronic pain management, but this restriction has been lifted in part due to a panel headed by the Institute of Medicine urging the Pentagon to do so last year.
The number of active military personnel becoming addicted to painkillers has been increasing. According to data compiled by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, the incident rate of opioid abuse diagnoses among active-duty troops has increased more than five-fold in the past decade. Another indication has been the huge jump in number of Veterans struggling with addiction to narcotic painkillers. Although buprenorphine and methadone both have a potential for abuse, there are many circumstances where their benefits far outweigh the risks.
The new rule was published in the Federal Register on October 22 stating, “Medication-assisted treatment, to include drug maintenance involving substitution of a therapeutic drug with addiction potential, for a drug of addiction, is now generally accepted … and thus appropriate for inclusion as a component in the Tricare-authorized substance use disorder treatment.”
We understand that there is never a one-size-fits-all treatment approach that will work for everyone, and therefore having more options available to treat those who protect our country is viewed as a positive advancement. On behalf of everyone at Family First Intervention, we want to say thank you to all of our active duty service men and women as well as our Veterans.