WASHINGTON — Deep within President Trump’s plan to combat opioid abuse, overshadowed by his call for the death penalty for some drug traffickers, is a push to expand the use of medication to treat addiction.
It’s a rare instance in which Trump isn’t trying to dismantle Obama administration policies, and where fractious Republicans and Democrats in Congress have come together.
Trump declared last month that ‘‘we’re making medically assisted treatment more available and affordable,’’ even as Congress was working to approve $1 billion for a new treatment grant program for opioids as part of the massive government funding bill.
Not to offer such treatment is like ‘‘trying to treat an infection without antibiotics,’’ new Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told the National Governors Association earlier this year.
Experts have long argued that medication-assisted treatment should be the standard of care for people addicted to heroin and other opioid drugs. But acceptance lags. Cost is a barrier, as are government regulations.
Some of the medications are opioids themselves and there’s no consensus on how long patients should remain in treatment.