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The Tennessee Department of Mental Health is proposing new rules for opioid treatment programs (OTPs) that would require discharge planning from the date of admission, with the main goal being to change methadone treatment from maintenance to detoxification. Treatment advocates and OTPs in the state are concerned that while there are some good ideas in the proposed regulations, there would be unintended consequences resulting in adverse patient care.
The new rules were proposed Dec. 19, 2011, but the goal of eliminating methadone maintenance treatment and replacing it with detoxification was revealed in an article by Tom Wilemon in the Tennessean published Jan. 28. Grant Lawrence, DMH communications director, confirmed the information in the article, saying that "Encouraging patients to become drug-free is our primary mission, with an emphasis on detoxification as opposed to a maintenance effort."