Articles, Blog

Expanding Medication-Assisted Treatment to Curb the Opioid Epidemic

December 9, 2019

every day brings another story about the
depth of this country’s opioid crisis overdoses up emergency services
overwhelmed another family burying a loved one the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention says the opioid epidemic is getting worse a
groundbreaking new report out this morning called substance abuse one of
America’s most pressing public health problems twelve and a half million
Americans abused prescription painkillers in the last year in 2016
alone according to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention
opioid related deaths from heroin or prescription drugs accounted for 42,000
deaths and that equates to 115 people every day who in the United States who
died from the opioid related overdose and that could be from heroin or
prescription drugs or fentanyl or another analog because the trends and opioid related
mortality continue it’s important to use strategies such as medication assisted
treatment which are evidence-based and can help put people on the path to
recovery yet at the same time there continues to be barriers to the adoption
of medication assisted treatment when we talk about medication assisted treatment
we’re talking about the combination of fda-approved medications for the
treatment of opioid use disorder in combination with psychosocial services
and other behavioral health needs and counseling needs that the individual may
have so it’s really the combination of the pharmacological and the psychosocial
aspects to treat the whole person the medications that are used in medication
assisted treatment so the fda-approved medications include methadone,
buprenorphine, and naltrexone so our project really focuses on the
buprenorphine aspects AIR is leading a grant funded project of the rural
Oklahoma medication assisted treatment expansion project which we call Oklahoma
and it’s a grant funded project by the agency for Healthcare Research and
quality AIR is partnered on this project with the oklahoma department of
mental health and substance abuse services the American Society of
addiction medicine and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center to
propose a multi-faceted solution that really emphasizes training and
mentorship for primary care physicians nurse practitioners and physician
assistants who are most often new to being a prescriber of buprenorphine for
opioid use disorder so our project is offering the training that’s needed to
obtain the waiver which affects our primary goal which is to expand capacity
in rural areas for providers being able to treat opioid use disorder in a place
where there’s a real shortage of providers who are trained to do that there are about eight point six seven
waivered buprenorphine providers per 100,000 population nationwide in
Oklahoma that number drops to six point four seven wavered providers for 100,000
population and those primarily are in urban areas in our 42 counties of focus
we’re currently seeing a rate of waiver buprenorphine providers that is three
point six three per 100,000 so about half the state rates so there’s still
some stigma in the provider community both around the modality of medication
assisted treatment and using a controlled drug but also there’s some
concern about the kind of patient that might be brought into the practice so
our research has shown that a very strong grounding in the disease of
addiction understanding addiction and the nuances that go along with it are
very important to becoming a successful provider of medication assisted
treatment and treating people with opioid use disorder and that includes
not just the pharmacological needs but also an understanding of what other
connections need to be made for this patient to behavioral health services to
mental health counseling to addiction counseling that that may be non
pharmacological as well at AIR we’re working to address the opioid epidemic
on several different levels and this includes safe prescribing practices for
pain medications it includes the expansion of treatment we’re also using
data to understand what some of the particular challenges are at a community
level and to help decision-makers understand what that what those data
might imply about potential solutions that may be cross sectors and cross
systems you know whether it’s through the justice system or the treatment
system or public health as the opioid epidemic continues people are struggling
to find ways to curb there’s many strategies that are in
place to try to do that and expanding capacity to treatment to serve the means
that people who have opioid use disorder as well identify them earlier get them
into treatment faster and keep them in treatment is really important because it
can help turn the tide you

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