Advancing Access to Addiction Medications

Research shows that addiction is a chronic disease similar to diabetes and hypertension, with long-term treatment success equal to or better than those diseases.

"No state legislature would put a time limit on medications for any other chronic disease, such as diabetes or hypertension," said ASAM President Stuart Gitlow, MD. "Yet there is a patchwork of such policies across the country on addiction medications."

 Medications to Treat Opioid Addiction

Buprenorphine/naloxone, buprenorphine, methadone and extended-release injectable naltrexone are FDA-approved medications shown to be highly effective in the treatment of opioid addiction, a chronic, life-threatening disease that affects millions of Americans. As with most chronic diseases, opioid addiction often requires long-term medication maintenance to achieve optimal outcomes. Many patients - like Whitney, Eva, and Walter - who receive medication-assisted opioid addiction treatment do recover and lead healthy and productive lives. 


ASAM Letters to Payers about Limitations on Medications to Treat Addiction

ASAM has submitted these letters to payers about possible limits on medications used to treat addictions.

Letter to TennCare

Letter to Health Alliance Plan of Michigan

ASAM Overdose Prevention and Opioid Addiction Treatment Policy Recommendations

Letter to US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, signed by ASAM President Stuart Gitlow, MD, MPH, MBA, DFAPA, submitting recommendations for urgently addressing the opioid epidemic.

Letter to HHS Secretary Burwell. July 31, 2014.


ASAM Patient Advocacy Task Force

ASAM believes that it is in the best interest of our physician members, their patients and other key stakeholders to educate state, federal and private sector policy-makers and the public about life-saving and cost-effective pharmacotherapies for the treatment of opioid addiction. The ASAM Board of Directors appointed the Patient Advocacy Task Force to gather data and spearhead an educational effort to inform policy making to assure effective patient access to these medications.


  • Advocate for patient access to evidence-based, cost-effective medication treatment for opioid dependence.


  • The Task Force conducted surveys of Medicaid programs in all 50 states and 30 private insurers to document payer policies related to opioid addiction medications and to identify model plans which assure the best patient access to care. 
  • The Task Force also commissioned two research analyses of the clinical and economic benefits of these medications. The resulting reports summarize the evidence supporting their effectiveness at improving patient outcomes and saving payers money.
  • The Task Force hosted a Stakeholder Summit on Thursday, June 20, 2013, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, to release the survey and research results and solicit feedback from stakeholders. Click here to access the survey reports and literature reviewsClick here to view the Summit presentations. 

Addiction Medication in the News

"ASAM Letter to the Editor--Naloxone Isn't Treatment."  New York Times, April 2014 

"Medication-Assisted Therapies--Tackling the Opioid Overdose Epidemic." New England Journal of Medicine, April 2014 

"Doc: my state in addiction stranglehold." Mark Publicker, CNN, February 2014

"Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic." Trust for America's Health, October, 2013.

"Ohio judge tries drug to rehabilitate addicted inmates." USA Today, September 26, 2013.

"Heroin Makes a Comeback," The Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2013

"Cory Monteith's Death Shows Rehab Alone Won't Cure Addiction," ABC News, July 20, 2013.

"Heroin in New England, More Abundant and Deadly," The New York Times, July 18, 2013.

"Painkiller addicts hit Medicaid limits," USA Today, July 16, 2013.

"Study backs more use in Wisconsin of life-saving heroin-overdose drug," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 13, 2013.

News Archives

Get Involved!

State Policy Tracking Tool

Stay up to date on state policies related to opioid addiction treatment with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) State Legistlative Tracking Tool.

ASAM Member Forum

Share your experience and connect with other ASAM Members through our Patient Advocacy Member Forum! (Requires ASAM Log-in) 


 ASAM is grateful for the support of its federal partners:

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), for supporting the review of clinical efficacy of addiction medications and how payer policies influence the use of those medications;

The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT/SAMHSA), for supporting the fact-finding efforts to document state Medicaid and private payer policies regarding access to addiction treatment pharmacotherapies;

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), for its support of the literature review of the clinical effectiveness of addiction treatment pharmacotherapies;

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), for supporting the assessment both of the availability of addiction medications nationwide and the cost and clinical effectiveness of these therapies.

ASAM is also grateful for the generous support of several private sponsors, including:


Behavioral Health Group (BHG)



Millennium Laboratories


Pfizer Inc.

Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Titan Pharmaceuticals, Inc.