Needing addiction treatment does not necessarily mean that you will receive it. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately 20.4 million adults in this country needed addiction treatment in 2015, but only 2.3 million received treatment at a specialty facility.  This means that just over 11 percent of those needing treatment are getting it. One recent study discusses the various barriers to substance abuse treatment.

What Are the Barriers to Substance Abuse Treatment?

This nation’s ongoing opioid crisis has placed a spotlight on the gap between the increased need for treatment and the barriers that exist to receiving these services. A recent study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine discusses common challenges faced by people who try to access appropriate addiction treatment services after a doctor’s office or emergency room visit.

The study interviewed a number of treatment referral stakeholders to identify common themes that are considered obstacles to treatment for addiction. The interviews accepted input from addiction specialists, physicians, emergency department personnel, and substance abuse treatment center staff.  The four common barriers to substance abuse treatment were:

  • Patient Eligibility. Healthcare providers often find it difficult to determine whether or not patients meet the criteria for admission to certain treatment centers.
  • Knowledge of Treatment Options. Providers that make referrals may not understand the different types of addiction treatment options available and how to make recommendations to patients for choosing the right type of addiction treatment.
  • Treatment Capacity. When patients are eligible for services, providers may not be able to get timely information on space availability at certain treatment centers.
  • Communication. There may exist some difficulty in communication between the providers that refer to addiction treatment services, patients, and the facilities that can deliver the care.
Woman reaching for someone's hand for help climbing.

If you need addiction treatment, there are several ways to overcome common obstacles.

Overcoming Common Addiction Treatment Barriers

Healthcare providers and regulators are working on solutions to address these particular obstacles to substance abuse treatment. Some of the recommendations include creating a database of eligibility criteria as well as providing real-time information on treatment center capacity. Additional education for healthcare providers about addiction and treatment options will also move this process forward.

Additionally, patients and their families may have to be the strongest advocates for addiction treatment. Many health insurance plans cover these services but do not make the information readily available unless you ask. There may also be other ways to get coverage such as through Medicaid. In the alternative, you can discuss payment options with your addiction treatment center.

Even if you are not receiving the referral services you need from a healthcare provider, contact a qualified substance abuse treatment center for the help you need. There may be a bed available for detox and treatment services when your physician is telling you otherwise.

At The Recovery Village, we offer comprehensive addiction services that include detox, medication-assisted therapy, inpatient and outpatient care, and treatment for co-occurring disorders. If you or someone you care about is struggling with addiction, contact us now to discuss admissions options and find out more about how our services can help.

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