CONCORD, NH – U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, on Aug. 7 visited Riverbend Community Mental Health to discuss the importance of expanding medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for substance use disorder, and the ways Riverbend is supporting families and communities struggling with addiction.
Hassan’s visit began with a tour of Riverbend where MAT is administered, and then she toured Riverbend’s Choices facility, which offers addiction recovery services. Hassan spoke with providers and a patient about addressing substance misuse and her work to support Riverbend’s efforts, including the bipartisan bill she introduced that would eliminate barriers that currently restrict health care providers from prescribing buprenorphine – a proven medication-assisted treatment – to patients struggling with addiction.
“People grappling with substance use disorder need access to medication-assisted treatment, coupled with counseling and peer support. But there remains a stigma that holds people back from seeking treatment, and outdated restrictions prevent health care providers from prescribing certain forms of medication-assisted treatment,” Hassan said. “I was glad to get an update on the work Riverbend does – it makes such a difference in our community, and I will keep working across the aisle to support their efforts and increase access to medication-assisted treatment.”
The patient Hassan met with began misusing substances at the age of 14 – nearly 30 years ago. Now, through the help of medication-assisted treatment, counseling, and peer support, he has been substance-free for more than a year.
“To effectively combat the opioid epidemic and treat people suffering from substance use disorder, we need all tools at our disposal,” said Peter Evers, Riverbend CEO. “We see every day how medication-assisted treatment helps to save lives, but unnecessary restrictions remain in place that limit access. It was great to have Senator Hassan here to talk more about our work supporting patients and the Concord community, and we’re grateful for her efforts to remove outdated barriers to medication-assisted treatment.”
As proposed, the bipartisan Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act would eliminate a requirement that practitioners must apply for a waiver through the Drug Enforcement Administration in order to prescribe buprenorphine for substance use disorder treatment. The bill would also require that the Secretary of Health and Human Services conduct a national campaign to educate practitioners about the change in law and encourage providers to integrate substance use treatment into their practices.