An Assembly panel on Thursday approved bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano that incorporates the latest scientific approach to substance use disorders in order to ensure that individuals can access the drug treatment they need.
Specifically, the legislation (A-4707) would prohibit residential substance use disorder treatment facilities and aftercare facilities, including sober living homes and halfway houses, from denying admission to a person because they are currently receiving medication assisted treatment for a substance use disorder, provided the treatment is administered by a licensed treatment provider.
Quijano noted that the science of addiction medicine is increasingly finding that substance use disorders can be most effectively treated with a combination of counseling, peer support, and medication. However, some of the medications used in such treatments, such as methadone and suboxone, are themselves addictive, but they can be safely administered and managed by trained medical professionals.
“Some treatment and aftercare programs operate with a philosophy that an addiction to one substance should not be replaced with an addiction to another, and therefore they object to medication assisted treatment, instead emphasizing counseling and peer support,” said Quijano (D-Union). “This philosophy, while earnest and well-meaning, has the unfortunate result of barring individuals receiving medically supervised medication assisted treatment from other recovery-related treatment services. This legislation is designed to remove scientifically outdated barriers to residential treatment, aftercare, and housing options for individuals in recovery.”
The bill specifies that medication assisted treatment includes, but need not be limited to, methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, or any other medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of a substance use disorder.
The measure was approved by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee and now awaits consideration from the full Assembly.