For decades, service members have been prescribed painkillers to deal with various ailments and injuries. Unfortunately, with these drugs being so readily available, dependency sneaks up on the road to recovery. For those using Tricare there may now be a solution to this problem.
A proposed change by the Department of Defense could enable Tricare to cover the cost of drug substitution therapy, thereby helping those suffering from painkiller dependency.
Medical substitution therapy is often covered by most private insurers, but hasn’t been available to Tricare beneficiaries. The change would allow Tricare to support medical treatment that combines prescribing therapeutic, but dependency-causing, substances for a known addiction-causing drug with counseling.
Medical drugs such as Methadone and Suboxone are proven medications for treating opiate addicts, serving as substitutes for heroin and prescription painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin. Both drugs help to eliminate the physical symptoms of dependency, like nausea and tremors, as well as the cravings of narcotics withdrawal.
Under the current policy, Tricare covers Suboxone only for intense detoxification. The new rule would allow the military health activity to support it for long-term maintenance treatment.
The current period of the proposed change ends Feb. 27, with changes going into effect about 90 days after the final rule is published.
A 2010 Army report estimated that one in seven soldiers has received a prescription for an opiate.