A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and reported on by the Los Angeles Times found that using medications like methadone and buprenorphine during opioid treatment not only increases a person’s chances of getting sober, but is also more cost-effective than detox alone. Researchers found that using medications long-term rather than forcing people to fight through detox alone would save $78,257 per person for taxpayers.
According to the research, if every person seeking treatment for opioid addiction in California over the course of a year were offered medication-assisted treatment rather than detox, the cost savings over the patients’ lifetimes would be nearly $4 billion.
However, in California, as in many other states, receiving access to medication assisted treatment is not always easy. People who have public health insurance must prove that they’ve completed detox twice and then relapsed in order to have prescriptions for medication assisted treatment covered.