Robin Clark in CommonWealth Magazine: State opioid addiction treatment policies must consider scientific evidence

November 04, 2014

Opioid addiction can be treated successfully with medication, and state policies should reflect the scientific evidence that supports those findings, UMass Medical School’s Robin Clark, PhD, writes in an op-ed for CommonWealth Magazine.

Dr. Clark, professor of family medicine & community health, draws on his experience as a both a clinician and researcher in the article while outlining his support for combining counseling with medication when treating opioid addiction. Several states have imposed lifetime limits on medication-assisted treatment. Massachusetts is not one of them.

The op-ed posted on Nov. 3 explains that medications known as opioid agonist treatments, such as methadone or buprenorphine/naloxone, help reduce withdrawal symptoms. Individuals addicted to opioids whose treatment includes an opioid agonist are less than half as likely to relapse, according to research led by Clark while a senior director at UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division.

The article also outlines a study by Clark and his team that shows states spend less when individuals addicted to opioids use medication. Members of MassHealth, the state Medicaid program, who use methadone or buprenorphine cost $120 to $400 less per month than those who use only counseling, according to Clark’s research.