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KU Study: Centers Turn Away Patients on Opioid Medication

Campanile on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence (Photo by J. Schafer)

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A recent University of Kansas study found that many treatment centers for addiction in the Kansas City area will not accept or have restrictions on accepting patients who have been prescribed medications to fight their addiction.

Nancy Kepple, an assistant professor for KU's School of Social Welfare, is the lead author of the study. The study surveyed 360 Kansas City-area treatment facilities to determine their acceptance rates of people with opioid use disorder who have been prescribed medications to treat the disorder, she told the Lawrence Journal-World .
The study found 40 percent of those treatment centers resist accepting those patients who take medication to treat the disorder.

Doctors have been increasingly prescribing medications to treat people with opioid use disorder. Some of those medications include methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone.
Some treatment centers said they resist accepting those patients because they either don't have the infrastructure or the knowledge of the medications to feel comfortable enough serving them, according to Kepple. Others said they are treatment centers that use the traditional 12-step program, which often adheres to a full-abstinence philosophy.
Those who use medications to fight addiction are in a precarious situation, Kepple said. If the person using the medications relapses back into addiction, they are considered more likely to overdose, which makes it more important that they receive long-term care, she said.

"There is a big movement in the recovery world about engaging people in supportive services longer than just an initial one-month to four-month treatment so they can sustain long-term recovery, but if they are not welcome or not able to access some of these supportive services, then they are left vulnerable," Kepple said.

Many of the treatment centers reported in the study that they would be willing to serve those with medication prescriptions, but they would need help to do so. The study says, "there is a need to build supports and infrastructure to increase services access for individuals using these medications."

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