State offers new treatment guide for opioid addicts

State health officials have produced a new guide for health care providers to help them in offering assistance to opioid addicts.

The Medication Assisted Treatment Guide, available for downloading on the state Division of Behavioral Health’s website, dhss.alaska.gov/dbh/Pages/Initiatives/EvidenceBasedPractices/MAT.aspx, outlines a comprehensive approach to treating and supporting individuals with opioid use disorder in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies.

According to Dr. Anne Zink, chief medical officer for DHSS, there are three medications approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for opioid use disorder: buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone. The guide focuses on helping providers understand how to develop MAT programs that offer buprenorphine and naltrexone treatment in conjunction with psychosocial treatment and support.

“MAT is the most effective current treatment for opioid addiction and increasing access to these services is an important step in addressing Alaska’s opioid epidemic,” Zink said.

The guide offers direction on choosing the most appropriate medication, delivery of services in a variety of clinical settings, meeting federal and state requirements for prescribing buprenorphine and naltrexone, and using telehealth technologies to provide services in rural and remote locations. The guide also advises how to treat special populations including pregnant women, youth and individuals under direction of the criminal justice system.