Minnesota State Senator Chris Eaton To Push Legislation To Reform Heroin Treatment

State Sen. Chris Eaton is planning to introduce legislation to encourage opiate treatment providers and doctors to break with an abstinence-based model and embrace evidence-based practices for treating addiction, the Minnesota Democrat told The Huffington Post.

Eaton, a member of Senate leadership, said a recent article in The Huffington Post on treatment for heroin addiction convinced her that one of the first things needed is to remove “the restrictions and intimidation of doctors who are prescribing Suboxone,” a maintenance medication. Those restrictions include federal regulations that cap the number of opiate patients a doctor can treat, which creates long waiting lists.

Eaton said she is also looking at ways to encourage the use of Suboxone by withholding public funds from treatment centers that refuse to follow evidence-based practices in favor of the ideologically driven abstinence model.

“He just paid attention to science. That’s totally unique,” Eaton quipped of Seppala. “I don’t know what got into him.”

Having Hazelden on board helps, she added, but the rest of the industry might still need a legislative push to have the same awakening. “It makes them stand up and take notice,” said Eaton of Hazelden’s effect on abstinence advocates. “They have a reputation that makes them give it more credence. It’s very helpful that they’re doing that; I don’t know if it’s enough to make anybody change.”

Jason Cherkis contributed reporting.

The Huffington Post