Advocates for Opioid Recovery Program

Advocates for Opioid Recovery Program

Newt Gingrich, Patrick J. Kennedy, and Van Jones are working together to launch a not-for-profit organization, known as Advocates for Opioid Recovery (AOR). This organization is hoping to remove barriers that prevent individuals addicted to opioids from receiving the most effective treatment [1].

The death rate from drug overdose has increased 137% since 2000, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose death from opioids [2]. In 2014, drug overdose claimed the lives of approximately 50,000 people, with around 29,000 of these deaths being related to opioids [1].

rsonm1Increasing access to effective, evidence-based treatment is a vital step to decreasing the burden associated with the opioid epidemic in the United States [3]. Research has shown that treatment with recovery medication is superior to behavioural counselling alone. However, less than half of addicts are receiving these medications [1].

The risk for developing opioid addiction depends on the interaction of several factors, including environmental factors, genetics, and the pharmacological effects of the opioids [4]. Recovery medications including buprenorphine, naltrexone, and methadone considerably reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and decrease the risk of death [1,3]. Further, they help those with opioid addiction achieve recovery in the long-term [1]. Unfortunately, several barriers to care exist, including regulatory, ideological and legislative barriers, which limit people from accessing this effective treatment option [1].

Another major problem with regard to access to care is that only 3% of physicians in the United States are authorized to use buprenorphine medications to treat opioid addiction, and these authorized physicians are only able to treat a maximum of 100 patients. Furthermore, insurance policy limitations add yet another barrier to recovery medication access [1].

rsonm2Fatal opioid overdose does not discriminate – it affects the poorest and wealthiest members of society and is blind to social status, education, and race [3]. The opioid epidemic in the United States has gained attention from numerous organizations including public health officials, health care professionals, harm reduction organizations and policy makers [3]. However, the opioid epidemic is not just an issue for public health; the criminal justice system must also make adjustments, moving away from incarceration toward treatment programs, including access to recovery medications for non-violent offenders [1].

Advocates for Opioid Recovery is hoping to raise awareness and encourage solutions that improve access to care with their media campaign. Advocates for Opioid Recovery will help government officials, policymakers, insurance companies and others understand how their decisions and policies have discriminated against people living with opioid addiction and how these policies limit access to effective treatment [1].

References

  1. Recovery A. New organization aims to break down barriers to effective recovery for opioid addiction. Prnewswirecom. 2016. Available at: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-organization-aims-to-break-down-barriers-to-effective-recovery-for-opioid-addiction-300290334.html. Accessed July 7, 2016.
  2. Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths — United States, 2000–2014. Cdcgov. 2016. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6450a3.htm. Accessed July 7, 2016.
  3. Kathryn F. Hawk G. Focus: Addiction: Reducing Fatal Opioid Overdose: Prevention, Treatment and Harm Reduction Strategies. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. 2015;88(3):235. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553643/. Accessed July 7, 2016.
  4. Bart G. Maintenance Medication for Opiate Addiction: The Foundation of Recovery. Journal of Addictive Diseases. 2012;31(3):207-225. doi:10.1080/10550887.2012.694598.
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