In 2016, 20.1 million Americans had a substance use disorder. Two million of them were addicted to opioids — including prescription and illicit drugs. Opioid overdoses ravaged America, taking the lives of over 42,000 people in 2016 alone, marking a 25 percent increase from 2015 and the worst year on record.

This isn’t just another statistic. It represents lost children, moms and dads. And it’s an added reminder of how addiction differs from other chronic illnesses. Even though addiction can be managed effectively with medical treatment, only 1 in 10 Americans with this disease ever receives care. And the few who do often receive substandard care or advice that is not based on research.

Incentivizing quality and access

Improving access to treatment that saves lives is the only way to prevent more tragedy.

Recognizing this gap, Shatterproof adopted a businesslike approach and brought together insurers, providers, advocates and other stakeholders to improve access to quality treatment. As a result of the work of this Task Force, 16 insurance companies representing more than 248 million individuals agreed to adopt eight National Principles of Care for the treatment of addiction.

By signing-on to these standards, insurers have committed to identify, promote and reward addiction treatment that is shown to improve a patient’s life. Together, they will use their market influence to incentivize high-quality practices while making a strong statement: addiction will be treated with the same urgency and respect as other diseases.

Modeling health care solutions

Shatterproof is also working to bring transparency and credibility to the system of addiction treatment. Recognizing that family members and friends often don’t know where to direct a person in crisis for the best type of treatment, we are adapting strategies from other health care sectors. This will help consumers locate care, help insurers decide which providers to include in their networks and help programs identify any areas for improvement.

Addiction is not a moral failing or a character flaw, and it is necessary that we take steps as a society to reverse the long-engrained stigma associated with this disease. Improving access to treatment that saves lives is the only way to prevent more tragedy. Shatterproof is changing the landscape of addiction treatment in the United States by removing barriers and moving toward proven medical treatment.