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NPs’ New Role Delivering Tx for Opioid Addiction

Congress recently passed, and President Trump signed “a comprehensive package of anti-opioid bills into law with a key provision permanently authorizing NPs [nurse practitioners] to prescribe medication-assisted treatments (MATs), further expanding patient access to these critical treatments,” according to Joyce Knestrick, PhD, C-FNP, APRN, the president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).

This passage is extremely important to those fighting opioid addictions as well as those healthcare workers who are treating them. “Recognizing the ongoing impact of the opioid crisis, Congress and the president moved quickly to get this critical legislation across the finish line. We applaud their actions, which acknowledge the vital role NPs play in treating patients with opioid use disorder with MATs,” Knestrick said.

What does this mean for the healthcare community? Knestrick explains.

Why is this law important for NPs and for opioid addicts?

Knestrick: First and foremost, for the millions of American families struggling with addiction today, passage of this legislation ensures patients continuity of care, knowing that their NPs can continue to provide their loved ones access to MAT treatment.

Second, knowing that NPs are now permanently authorized to prescribe MAT, we anticipate significant growth in the number of America’s NPs who will become waivered to prescribe MATs, which will help turn the tide of opioid addiction in communities nationwide.

How will this help more opioid addicts?

Knestrick: As primary care professionals, NPs really are on the front lines of combating the opioid epidemic. Tragically, 80% of patients addicted to opioids don’t receive the treatment they need, due in part to healthcare access challenges, stigma, cost, and other factors. Thanks to advances in MAT, which combines medications that temper cravings with counseling and therapy, and this new law granting NPs permanent authority to prescribe MATs, the opportunities to reach and treat patients struggling with addiction are better than ever before.

In addition to helping addicts, will this make the process more cost-effective? If not, how else will it be beneficial to healthcare facilities and/or treatment centers?

Knestrick: We do know that treating people with addiction to opioids and other substances is costly, in part because of the need for in-patient treatment and more frequent hospitalizations. Yet most people in need of treatment simply don’t receive it. As a nation, we are facing significant shortages of specialty treatment facilities for addiction, and this makes it all the more important to ensure that NPs and other primary care providers have the tools to meet the patient need for MATs.

AANP has formed a collaboration with the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the American Association of Physician Assistants to provide the 24-hour waiver training for NPs and physician assistants. We invite NPs to visit AANP’s CE Center for more information.

This story was originally published by Daily Nurse, a trusted source for nursing news and information and a portal for the latest jobs, scholarships, and books from award-winning publisher, Springer Publishing Company.