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BHN helps shape national policy on methadone treatment

BHN helps shape national policy on methadone treatment

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Behavioral Health Network (BHN) has been instrumental in influencing federal regulations concerning methadone treatment, as announced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

BHN’s advocacy has led to significant changes that are poised to enhance access to opioid treatment across the United States.

SAMHSA’s new rules, set to take effect in April 2024, represent a landmark shift in opioid treatment regulations, the first since 2001. These revisions aim to bolster access to evidence-based medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) and promote patient-centered interventions, ultimately fostering a more supportive and empowering environment for individuals in recovery.

The final rule, incorporating BHN’s recommendations, expands access to treatment, prioritizes practitioner autonomy, eliminates stigmatizing language, and adopts a patient-centered approach. Notably, practitioners will no longer be bound by rigid criteria in determining take-home methadone doses. Instead, they will employ harm reduction strategies and engage in shared decision-making with patients, considering individual circumstances to optimize treatment outcomes.

BHN’s impact extends beyond policy advocacy to practical implementation. The network has established four Opioid Treatment Program clinics in Holyoke, Springfield, Orange, and Greenfield between 2019 and 2021. These clinics have become vital resources amid the escalating fentanyl crisis, providing critical methadone treatment alongside counseling and behavioral therapies.

The network’s commitment to excellence is evident in its adherence to stringent standards. BHN’s clinics boast board-certified doctors in Addiction Medicine, offer walk-in admissions without waitlists, and implement progressive take-home bottle policies aligned with federal guidelines. Furthermore, BHN emphasizes community collaboration and employs scientific dosing strategies to address the challenges posed by the fentanyl era.

In a groundbreaking move, BHN will launch a Mobile Methadone Program in Ware in 2024, marking the first initiative of its kind in western Massachusetts. This innovative program will deliver methadone treatment via a 35-foot mobile unit, expanding access to care in underserved areas.

Dr. Ruth Potee, BHN’s Medical Director, underscores the network’s leadership in the field, noting that BHN’s approach has become a benchmark for clinics nationwide. Dr. Potee recently presented BHN’s treatment model at various prestigious forums, including the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the Massachusetts Society of Addiction Medicine, as well as at a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill.

With a comprehensive range of services spanning inpatient and outpatient treatment, recovery coaching, and driver alcohol education, BHN remains at the forefront of addiction recovery care. To learn more about SAMHSA’s new regulations, visit their website.

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