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Methadone Bill Would End California’s Highly Restrictive Ways

Methadone Bill Would End California’s Highly Restrictive Ways

A man high on fentanyl smokes from a nicotine pouch in Stanton, Calif., on Feb. 26, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

4/25/2024

Updated: 4/25/2024

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Some California leaders think increasing access to methadone, a drug commonly used to treat opioid withdrawals, will help fight the fentanyl crisis.
Currently one of the most restrictive states, California could become a leader in methadone access under legislation proposed by a San Francisco Democrat.
“With thousands of Californians losing their lives annually, it is utterly maddening that we would withhold one of the most powerful addiction treatments from those who desperately need it,” Assemblyman Matt Haney, author of the bill, said in a press release last week.
Assembly Bill 2115, introduced in February, would allow doctors to prescribe up to 72 hours’ worth of take-home doses of the “highly effective” drug and would increase the amount a patient can take home from a clinic, avoiding the need to line up daily for dosing, according to an April 4 press release.
The bill would scrap other requirements under existing law, including that recipients must show they’ve used opioids for at least one year and that they must participate in frequent counseling services. It would also give patients a 30-day grace period for leaving treatment before they’re kicked out of a methadone program.
Physicians would get greater discretion when gauging the doses of patients, doctors would be allowed to perform federally required physical exams, and patients could deny any non-drug related blood testing and lab work during exams, according to the bill’s text.
“When we are in the midst of the deadliest overdose crisis, we need to make all evidence-based treatment options as accessible as possible,” Dr. Leslie Suen, who specializes in addiction medicine at UC San Francisco, said in Mr. Haney’s press release.
The Select Committee on Fentanyl, Opioid Addiction, and Overdose Prevention, which is chaired by Mr. Haney, held its third hearing on the bill on April 18. The hearing focused on medication-assisted treatment and included addiction experts, state health care leaders, and one patient currently receiving methadone treatment.
“Methadone has allowed me to accomplish so much in my life, and despite all of the issues caused by the way we deliver methadone, it’s still been worth it,” said Axl Kaminski, a graduate student at UC Davis.
Medications like methadone reduce overdose deaths by more than 50 percent, according to lawmakers, but fewer than one in 10 opioid addicts in the U.S. are enrolled in treatment.
Lawmakers pointed to other countries where methadone is much more accessible, like in Europe, which only saw 6,100 opioid overdoses in 2022 versus 7,300 deaths in California alone in 2023.
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Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

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Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.

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