Today’s post is a bow to the wisdom and bravery displayed every day he has been living and surviving with his health issues and serving in public office.
The Honorable Patrick J. Kennedy is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and the nation’s leading political voice on mental illness, addiction, and other brain diseases. During his 16-year career representing Rhode Island in Congress, he fought a national battle to end medical and societal discrimination against these illnesses, highlighted by his lead sponsorship of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008–and his brave openness about his own health challenges.
The son of Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy, he decided to leave Congress not long after his father’s death to devote his career to advocacy for brain diseases and to create a new, healthier life and start a family. He has since founded the Kennedy Forum, which unites the community of mental health, and co-founded One Mind for Research, a global leader in open science collaboration in brain research. Kennedy is also the co-author of “A Common Struggle,” which outlines a bold plan for the future of mental health in America.
Patrick lives in New Jersey with his wife, Amy, and their four children.
PCA Colorado and Surrounded by Recovery agree to participate and advocate for:
Some people have been resistant to using a medication to treat a medication-based addiction, and believe that total abstinence is the only legitimate path forward. The scientific evidence does not support this belief, and has clearly demonstrated that recovery medication is essential for most patients.1 Additionally, a recent trial found that 96% of patients treated with Probuphine avoided drug use for at least 4 months. If you know someone affected by opioid addiction, talk to them about the effectiveness of treatment with medicine share this provider locator tool. Give particular focus to vulnerable populations like veterans, who are twice as likely to die from a drug overdose.
The federal government must act immediately to eliminate, or at a minimum raise, the arbitrary 100 patient treatment cap for physicians authorized to treat opioid addiction with medication. It would be inexcusable to deny those living with diseases like diabetes, cancer or heart disease medication that’s been scientifically proven to successfully treat their illness. And it’s equally inexcusable to place caps on the number of patients doctors can treat with medication for the disease of opioid addiction. Policymakers should pass legislation that enables physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners to prescribe recovery medications for all patients who need it.
Currently, less than 3 percent of America’s physicians can prescribe recovery medications, and most of them have long waiting lists. Physicians should seek training to become authorized to treat opioid addiction with recovery medications like buprenorphine, and self-advocate for the removal of limitations on the number of patients they are permitted to treat.
Insurance Decision Makers
Maintenance treatment with medication for opioid addiction has been shown to prevent relapse and death but is currently strongly discouraged by lifetime medication limits under many insurance policies. It should not be acceptable to strongly discourage an effective treatment that can save lives. Insurance companies should eliminate ‘fail first’ programs and lifetime medication limits for opioid recovery medication.
Criminal Justice Professionals
Presently only 11% of inmates with substance use disorders receive any treatment during their incarceration despite the high potential of treatment with medicine to reduce both recidivism and criminal justice costs. Both the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration have encouraged drug court personnel to increase their knowledge of the effectiveness of treatment with medication and increase its use in drug courts. All criminal justice professionals should support and encourage the use of buprenorphine as part of participation in a drug court program for those with opioid addiction.