Treatment for the Homeless with Opioid Addiction

Medication-Assisted Treatment Provides Opportunity to Treat the Homeless with Opioid Addiction

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council new policy brief, Medication-Assisted Treatment: Buprenorphine in the HCH Community outlines the growing need to provide effective treatment for opioid addiction use disorder and the challenges to administer Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) to individuals who are addicted to opioids.

These barriers include the high cost of treatment, lack of insurance, other physical and behavioral health issues, and the cap on the number of patients that physicians can treat in a given year.

The brief also provides an overview of the incidence of death due to opioid addiction and highlights that individuals experiencing homelessness are at higher risk of opioid overdoses resulting in death than individuals that are stably housed.

The administration of Buprenorphine, a drug use to reduce the withdrawal symptoms of opioids and decrease physical dependency, in MAT is highlighted as an effective treatment drug for individuals who are either housed or unstably housed.

The report identifies some strategies and policy recommendations to help increase access to treatment and recovery for individuals addicted to opioids.

These include allowing physicians to serve more patients, broadening prescribers’ rights to clinicians that are certified to prescribe Class II, IV, and V CDS drugs and implementing a patient-centered, harm reduction, and integrated care approach while treating individuals that are experiencing homelessness.

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council was founded on the principles that

  • homelessness is unacceptable;
  • every person has the right to adequate food, housing, clothing, and health care;
  • all people have the right to participate in the decisions affecting their lives;
  • contemporary homelessness is the product of conscious social and economic policy decisions that have retreated from a commitment to ensuring basic life necessities for all people; and
  • the struggle to end homelessness and alleviate its consequences takes many forms, including efforts to ensure adequate housing, health care, and access to meaningful work.

The mission of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council is to eliminate homelessness by ensuring comprehensive health care and secure housing for everyone.

To accomplish its mission, the National HCH Council strives to

  • create and disseminate knowledge regarding the interaction of inadequate housing and poor health;
  • maintain active relationships with a broad range of service providers, consumer and advocacy groups, academic institutions, and public officials, in the United States and internationally;
  • promote clinical practices and public policies that will improve the health status of people without homes or at risk of homelessness; and
  • demonstrate its commitment to human rights and adherence to its founding principles in its activities, governance structure, internal policies, and external partnerships.

Medication-Assisted Treatment: Buprenorphine in the HCH Community

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