Do business concerns keep doctors from treating opioid addiction?

One morning last week as I arrived at our new addiction treatment center, the CAPA Clinic in St. Louis, one of the social work student interns I supervise couldn’t wait to tell me about the “excitement” they’d experienced in the few hours the clinic had been open for the day: a patient had been stabbed, another was screaming in the waiting room and had to be removed by the police, and detectives arrived to arrest one of the clinic’s clients.

That got me thinking about my participation in a national panel of addiction experts whose work formed the basis for “Medications for Opioid Use Disorder Save Lives,” a new report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. In it we noted that, despite the huge need for U.S. physicians to provide medication-assisted therapy for opioid use disorder, only a small number of them have signed up to do it. The panel recommended that more join in.

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