Nurse practitioners fight opioid epidemic under new law

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Nurse practitioners across the country will be in Indianapolis this week getting trained on new ways of treating opioid addiction. 

Last year, President Trump passed new legislation on the opioid epidemic fight that included the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. 

Nurse practitioners who complete the required training are given a permanent waiver to prescribe Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). 

Previously, the number of patients nurse practitioners could prescribe MAT to was capped, creating a barrier for patients to get treatment, especially for those in rural areas.

While fighting addiction is complicated, this waiver is another way nurse practitioners can fill the gap between doctors and the opioid epidemic. 

The SUPPORT Act was led by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. 

At their conference this week at the convention center, more than 100 nurses will go through a live training to obtain the waiver. 

New research from the American Medical Association shows opioid prescription rates are down 35% in the last five years in Indiana. 

Some nurses say that is great news for prevention. But, without the right addiction treatment, addicts often turn to the streets for drugs. Julie Denton, a nurse practitioner at St. Vincent Stress Center, said lack of treatment can result in the use of dirty needles and even overdose. 

“The importance of the medication is that it can help those who have really struggled in recovery from their opioid addiction to continue to receive some medication for their symptoms and their receptor sites. And not just be cold turkey, which we know does not effectively treat people. Telling people to just, ‘suck it up’ and not use it is not the answer either. Their brains have changed as a result of their addiction,” said Denton. 

In the year since the SUPPORT Act went into law, more than 300 nurse practitioners in Indiana now have the waiver, according to Bose Public Affairs Group.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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