The isolation, despair and economic hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic may be causing the opioid epidemic to grow worse. According to Barbara Andraka-Christou, assistant professor of health management and informatics at the University of Central Florida, says that overdoses have already gone up in the first half of the year. In Andraka-Christou’s new book “The Opioid Fix: America’s Addiction Crisis and the Solution They Don’t Want You to Have,” she explains how we need access to more life-saving medications to prevent more overdoses from occurring.
The Challenges of Providing Addiction Treatment to Communities
According to Andraka-Christou, there is still a giant stigma about addiction with people viewing substance abuse as a choice rather than a condition. While people may initially choose to use a substance, the dependency and consequences that follow are not situations people enter voluntarily. Many communities do not want to provide resources to people making “a bad decision.” Funding education around prevention tactics may seem preferable but don’t always o take into account social and environmental factors that might predispose someone to substance use. While physicians may be able to prevent some overdoses by not over-prescribing opioids, it is hard to prevent someone from seeking drugs if a person’s childhood experience increases the likelihood of developing a substance abuse disorder.
Barriers to Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Medications like buprenorphine and methadone have been proven effective in preventing overdoses and relapses. There is still a stigma about this form of treatment by 12-Step groups and residential centers. There are also cost issues and insurance barriers including the need for prior authorization. Andraka-Christou says that some rehabilitation facilities warn patients not to take suboxone once their stay is over or do not allow them to enter the center if they take the medication. Instead of understanding that these medications are for the purpose of helping that person function better, they see it as just another drug.
Other Changes to Help Increase the Use of MAT
Andraka-Christou believes medical professionals should be present in drug courts. There is little information in the drug courts about medication-assisted treatment. She believes more courts should be certified in order to get the funding for MAT. If there are more medical professionals out there, smart medical decisions could be made in regards to those who are suffering from addiction.
Medication-assisted treatment can be extremely helpful in preventing overdoses and relapses. Alta Loma Transitional Living offers programs that can help teach you how to manage your medications to ensure you are using them the right way. Our all male program specializes in helping men with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders achieve the emotional and psychological stability that will allow them to focus on sustainable, long-term recovery. Located just north of Austin in Georgetown, Texas, Alta Loma uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. Our team of knowledgeable, compassionate professionals will work with you to create an ideal care plan and secure the support you need, quickly, to avoid unnecessary problems. If you need help with medication management or if you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at (866) 457-3843.