Health Care Equality and Parity for Treatment of Addictive Disease

Buxton-Smith Center for Research on Addiction Medicine, Free Clinic Movement, 856 Stanyan Street, San Francisco 94117, USA.
Journal of psychoactive drugs (Impact Factor: 1.1). 06/2010; 42(2):121-6. DOI: 10.1080/02791072.2010.10400684
Source: PubMed


Substance abuse represents a significant underlying cause of the health issues faced in the United States, which severely impacts the nation's health care system and economy. Recently enacted parity legislation mandates that benefits for addiction and mental health treatment be provided on an equal footing with those for treatment for physical health. Diversion and abuse of prescription medications is growing in young people, with much of the diversion occurring between family and friends. Addiction has been accepted by mainstream medicine as a brain disease, and is associated with many other medical disorders. Early intervention and treatment for addiction provides extraordinary cost-benefit outcomes. Additional training for addiction professionals will be necessary. Stigmatization of substance abusers continues to exist at the state and federal levels, although research during the past 10 years indicates that patient compliance and relapse rates for substance abusers are not significantly different than those for individuals with other chronic diseases, e.g. diabetes, hypertension, and cardiac issues. While parity for addiction treatment has become policy at the federal level, great challenges lie ahead in funding access, facilities, and training, as well as redirecting societal perceptions and legislated penalties.

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