SAMHSA Grant Program Will Help Address Methadone Poisoning

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) today announced a three-year cooperative agreement grant award totaling $1.5 million to the American Society of Addiction Medicine to train physicians and other health professionals on the appropriate use of methadone in the treatment of pain and opioid addiction.

The cooperative agreement is to establish a national mentoring network offering support (clinical updates, evidence-based outcomes and education) free of charge to opioid addiction treatment center medical staff, prescribing physicians and other medical professionals in the appropriate use of methadone for the treatment of pain and opioid addiction.

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SAMHSA is responsible for certifying nearly 1,200 opioid treatment programs that use methadone and buprenorphine (another opioid treatment medication) in the treatment of opioid addiction.

“According to the National Center for Health Statistics, methadone poisoning deaths nationwide increased 390 percent from 786 deaths in 1999 to 3,849 deaths in 2004. Ongoing data indicate that the number of deaths in many states continued to increase in 2005,” said SAMHSA Administrator Terry Cline, Ph.D. “Medical education and training are critical and warranted to reduce methadone-associated deaths. This initiative will provide necessary support to help prescribing medical professionals better understand the benefits and risks associated with methadone.”

The mission of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) is to educate physicians/other medical professionals and promote the appropriate role of the physician and other medical professionals in the care of patients with addiction. ASAM has developed and disseminated course materials addressing pain and addiction and presently provides training on the use of methadone in SAMHSA certified Opioid Treatment Programs throughout the country. Thus, ASAM continues to provide critical support that is vital to the safety of patients receiving methadone-based therapies involving addiction and chronic pain.

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