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Opioid Problem? You Are Not Alone

People who are dependent on opioid medications are often reluctant to ask for help. They fear they will get into trouble or be denied support. Sadly, the abuse and misuse of opioids destroy lives, but recovery should not.

That’s why Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is working with the medical community, businesses and members to address substance use disorders. We recognize that you or someone you love may be struggling to live a normal life while hiding a disorder. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can help people regain control of their lives without disrupting their jobs or families.

Here’s a hypothetical example of how MAT could help.

Bob had back surgery four years ago.

Fortunately, he got an opioid prescription for pain-management during his recovery. Unfortunately, as he struggled with pain, Bob developed an opioid use disorder. After his doctor stopped writing prescriptions for opioids, Bob turned to other sources. Now, when he can’t find opioids he uses illicit street drugs. He is hiding his disorder, but he wants to stop.

Bob is afraid.

He thinks if he tells, his doctor will turn him away or someone will report him to the police. He worries that he will need inpatient treatment that will force him to go through an agonizing withdrawal. His job is already at risk. If his disorder becomes public, he worries about the effect it will have on his family. He fears he could lose everything. However, if he overdoses, he could lose his life.

Bob finally tells his doctor.

His doctor is compassionate and ready to help. His doctor has special training and a federal waiver to prescribe MAT so that Bob can take steps toward recovery. These steps will not require inpatient treatment, going “cold turkey” or agonizing withdrawal. Bob can function as he and his doctor work to end his substance use disorder.

Bob can get treatment.

As an Arkansas Blue Cross member, Bob doesn’t need prior approval to fill MAT prescriptions (BlueAdvantage members should check their benefits). That means Bob can get the prescription he needs to start treatment right away. His doctor meets with him frequently to get his dose right and monitors him through urine tests.

Bob gets connected with behavioral health counseling.

Some of Bob’s counseling sessions are covered through his Employee Assistance Program at work. Since there’s no long work absence required for outpatient treatment, Bob can preserve his privacy. Only he, his doctor and his counselor know about his treatment, which are recommended but not required.

For MAT to work, people who need it have to speak up. Take the first step. Talk to your doctor, call the number on the back of your health plan ID card or call the New Directions Substance Use Member Hotline at 1-877-326-2458. Take the first step and ask for help.

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