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TRI March Newsletter

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Integrating Medication Assisted Treatment Best Practices into Drug Courts

Effective utilization of medication assisted treatments (MAT) for opioid use disorder has been shown to significantly improve clinical and criminal justice outcomes. As drug courts across the country begin to integrate MAT into their practices as part of federal funding requirements, TRI has developed a robust program for supporting jurisdictions’ efforts to achieve this goal. The research team is currently conducting a state-wide evaluation on the effectiveness of providing MAT to opioid and/or alcohol dependent drug court participants in 13 counties throughout a large mid-western state. The primary goals of this evaluation are to examine the effectiveness of the MAT program on multi-dimensional client outcomes, assess the comparative effectiveness of the different medications, identify obstacles and barriers to program implementation and sustainability, and calculate the cost efficiency of the program.

Learn more about the MAT Drug Court Program Evaluation Program here.

Medication Assisted Treatment Education for Counselors and Patients

Assisting patients and counselors engage in shared decision making is one goal of TRI’s behavioral health counselor-friendly curriculum. The new four-graphic novel series was developed in response to positive feedback from a previously conducted large clinical trial – that offered self-guided prevention and intervention methods for patients who could benefit and improve co-occurring health conditions by reducing their substance use or quitting all together. The new curriculum is embedded with educational exercises designed to help substance use disorder (SUD) counselors talk with patients early in the treatment process about their choices concerning medication for substance use disorders.

Each graphic novel incorporates information about how the different available Medication Assisted Treatments (MAT) (e.g. Vivitrol, Buprenorphine) can potentially be integrated into patient alcohol, opioid or drug dependency care. The illustrated guides are designed to be solutions-focused and encourage patient engagement through relatable character scenarios. As we continue to embrace the effectiveness of incorporating MAT into a comprehensive approach to ongoing SUD care, educated conversations between patients and providers are vitally important.

TRI Endorses Recommendations to Strengthen Access to Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Care

As lawmakers consider health reform legislation, TRI signed on to support comprehensive recommendations issued by the Coalition for Whole Health, which brings together leading national organizations from the mental health (MH) and substance use disorder (SUD) fields.

The recommendations urged policymakers to ensure that our nation’s system of health care and coverage includes the following elements:

  • Coverage for the full continuum of benefits for mental health and substance use disorders at parity with other health care benefits.
  • Expanded Medicaid coverage and mechanisms that make private insurance coverage more affordable for and accessible to people with or at risk for MH and SUD.
  • Maintenance of the current structure of the Medicaid program, a critically important safety net program for adults and children with SUD and MH care needs.
  • Continued requirements for insurers to have adequate networks of MH and SUD care providers.
  • Maintain protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

As the legislation continues to be scrutinized, efforts to protect and improve the mental health and substance use disorder service infrastructure, as well as other related and pressing issues, remains critical.

The full recommendations and list of signing organizations can be found here.

Look for TRI at the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s Conference in April

The integration of substance use prevention and treatment into mainstream healthcare–and putting resources into the hands of patients –is more important than ever. TRI looks forward to participating in this year’s American Society of Addiction Medicine’s (ASAM) Annual Conference to learn about the latest research, science and innovations shaping addiction medicine. As research remains critical to the foundation for behavior change, TRI remains committed to working with state agencies, insurers and treatment systems to quantify, and make actionable, quality improvement efforts. If you’re attending the conference, look for us (booth 239) to learn more about some of our initiatives, including the Treatment Program Quality Assessment, MAT Drug Court Evaluation and Case Management Support Systems.