In December of last year, Georgia State Auditor Greg Griffin published a report, which found that “the state’s efforts to expand the availability of medication-assisted treatment for those with opioid use disorder have been limited.” Griffin recommended a comprehensive opioid strategy that “increase[s] access to MAT — including increasing the number of MAT providers; providing resources and training to practitioners, state supervising officials, and the public; and mitigating barriers to public insurance coverage.”
Tackling the opioid epidemic should be a priority during the 2018 legislative session and the recommendations made in the State Auditor’s report can guide Georgia lawmakers forward. Scientific research shows that patients receiving MAT are more likely to remain in treatment, end illegal drug usage, and avoid the cycle of drug abuse. These patients are also less likely to contract infectious diseases related to IV drug use and less likely to engage in criminal behaviors often associated with substance abuse.
By expanding the availability of medication-assisted treatment, we can save lives, enhance public safety, and ensure a bright and promising future for Georgia families. Again, these outcomes are only possible when you treat the underlying disease — not just the symptoms.
While I no longer have a vote under the Gold Dome, I do urge representatives and senators from all four corners of our state to join the fight and advance legislation that tackles opioid abuse through the expansion of MAT.
Together, we can stop the opioid epidemic from destroying lives, ruining communities, and tarnishing the sterling reputation of our great state. With a comprehensive, common-sense approach, we can remain a state of success – not one in need of on-camera intervention.
Brian Kemp is Georgia’s Secretary of State, and is a Republican candidate for governor.