Addiction is a disease that can be treated with the same effectiveness as other chronic illnesses. However, these evidence-based treatments are largely not accessible to those in need.
Only 1 in 10 Americans with a substance use disorder receives any treatment. Even worse, most who do get treatment do not receive care that is shown by medical research to be effective.
Many expert researchers, organizations, and policy groups have developed recommendations to improve the quality of addiction treatment in the United States, but these solutions are not being implemented rapidly or at scale. The current system is broken, resulting in continued heartbreak. It simply must change.
When Brian Mendell finally found an addiction treatment plan that worked for him, it felt like an incredible breakthrough. For the first time in a long time, there was excitement and hope in Brian’s voice. He told his family, “I really feel like I can get through this!”
At this point in Brian’s treatment, he had already been through seven ineffective programs. When those treatment approaches didn’t help Brian get well, it only intensified his feelings of shame and failure.
Luckily, things finally changed in his eighth program. There, Brian had access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT), an evidence-based approach approved by the American Medical Association. While taking medication as prescribed by his doctor and in combination with behavioral therapy, Brian went a full year without using and was feeling better than ever.
But when Brian moved on to a less intensive program, his new psychiatrist abruptly cut off Brian’s medication. This is not a sanctioned or recommended practice but occurred because his psychiatrist “didn’t believe in” MAT.
Without his medication, Brian fell into despair. Months later, still not using but seeing no end to his suffering, Brian took his own life.
This is why Shatterproof Founder and CEO, Gary Mendell, and leading addiction treatment researcher, Dr. Thomas McLellan, created the Shatterproof Substance Use Disorder Treatment Task Force. The Task Force’s focus is not to develop more recommendations. Instead, the focus is to implement change.
The Task Force began operations in April of 2017, uniting providers, private and public payers, advocates, and policymakers around a shared goal: to ensure that every American with a substance use disorder has access to evidence-based treatment, just like those receiving treatment for any other disease. The Task Force is uniquely equipped to transform the addiction treatment system by creating change in multiple sectors.