Opioid Epidemic Stigma Perpetuated by Social Media

Opioid Epidemic Stigma Perpetuated by Social Media
You’ve seen them. The exposure of devastating images of addiction, especially photos and videos of people overdosing or near-death, sometimes with their children nearby. In some instances, the posted or shared pictures and videos were posted by law enforcement or first responders. Questions have been raised as to why it is acceptable to post images that feature people with addiction. People are questioning whether the same situation would arise if people were found to be in medical emergency situations that involve a diabetic, or asthma. It is acceptable for a bystander to post similar images on social media too? According to Samuel A. Ball, PhD,President and CEO of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, the stigma of addiction will remain strong because some of its symptoms result in real risk or harm to others. But more of the stigma of addiction, which is also true of obesity, comes from...
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Surgeon General Issues Landmark Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health

Surgeon General Issues Landmark Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health
A new Surgeon General’s report finds alcohol and drug misuse and severe substance use disorders, commonly called addiction, to be one of America’s most pressing public health concerns. Nearly 21 million Americans – more than the number of people who have all cancers combined – suffer from substance use disorders. The report, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, marks the first time a U.S. Surgeon General has dedicated a report to substance misuse and related disorders. The report addresses alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription drug misuse, with chapters dedicated to neurobiology, prevention, treatment, recovery, health systems integration and recommendations for the future. It provides an in-depth look at the science of substance use disorders and addiction, calls for a cultural shift in the way Americans talk about the issue, and recommends actions we can take to prevent and treat these conditions, and promote recovery....
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Addiction a Chronic Disease of the Brain, Not a Character Flaw: Surgeon General

Addiction a Chronic Disease of the Brain, Not a Character Flaw: Surgeon General
Many people still see addiction as a character flaw instead of a chronic disease of the brain, according to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. He told The Huffington Post that to address the opioid epidemic, it is necessary to “change how our country sees addiction.” Almost two million Americans are addicted to prescription opioids, Dr. Murthy told the publication’s Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington. “We can work on sharpening our prescribing practices, working with clinicians to ensure we’re treating pain safely and effectively,” he said. Doctors need to be more equipped with skills for “how to recognize and treat substance use disorders to ensure that all the needs of a patient population are cared for.”
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Stanford Medical School Takes Lead in Teaching Addiction Medicine

Stanford Medical School Takes Lead in Teaching Addiction Medicine
While most medical schools devote little time to teaching addiction medicine, Stanford is leading the way in taking a new approach, NPR reports. Stanford has announced addiction lectures will no longer be part of a psychiatry series, but will become a separate unit for doctors in all subspecialties. Training in addiction medicine will continue when students have clinical rotations. As part of the school’s effort to reduce doctors’ reliance on prescribing opioids for pain, Stanford professor Dr. Anna Lembke is working with fellow faculty members to offer a lecture series on alternative treatments, such as acupuncture and massage.
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States That Have Not Expanded Medicaid Struggle to Get Care to Addiction Patients

States That Have Not Expanded Medicaid Struggle to Get Care to Addiction Patients
In the 19 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, doctors, public health officials and community leaders are struggling to get care to patients who need addiction treatment, the Los Angeles Times reports. Many poor patients in these states are on waiting lists for recovery programs, or cannot obtain medicine to treat their addiction because they can’t afford it, health officials say. In states that expanded their Medicaid programs through the Affordable Care Act, poor adults have access to health insurance and a way to pay for addiction treatment, the article notes. The 19 states that have rejected federal aid to expand Medicaid eligibility have effectively made coverage available only to poor children, seniors and pregnant women. All of those states have Republican governors or legislatures. “The best way to get treatment if you’re addicted to drugs in Missouri is to get pregnant,” said Dr. Joe Parks,...
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Insurance Plans Not Covering Necessary Services for People with Addiction: Report

Insurance Plans Not Covering Necessary Services for People with Addiction: Report
A new report finds insurance plans around the country are not covering the necessary services for people with addiction. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reviewed addiction benefits offered in the 2017 Essential Health Benefits benchmark plans and found more than two-thirds violate the Affordable Care Act. None of the plans are adequate, the report concluded. “Our findings reveal that people with addiction may not be receiving effective treatment because insurance plans aren’t covering the full range of evidence-based care,” Lindsey Vuolo, JD, MPH, Associate Director of Health Law and Policy at The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, and lead author of the report, said in a news release. “For example, our review did not find a single state that covers all of the approved medications used to treat opioid addiction.” The Essential Health Benefits benchmark plans determine which addiction benefits are available to the 12.7 million...
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Six States Ban Kratom Over Concerns About Addiction Potential

Six States Ban Kratom Over Concerns About Addiction Potential
Alabama recently became the sixth state to ban the herbal supplement kratom over concerns about its potential for addiction, according to the Associated Press. Wisconsin, Vermont, Tennessee, Indiana and Arkansas have also banned the supplement. Alabama classified kratom as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin and Ecstasy. More states are also considering banning kratom, which is often sold as a pain treatment. Kratom is a plant that originates in Southeast Asia. The drug is categorized as a botanic dietary supplement. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot restrict the sale of kratom unless it is proved unsafe, or manufacturers claim it treats a medical condition. The FDA banned the import of kratom into the United States in 2014. Kratom is not controlled under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has listed kratom as a “drug and chemical of concern,” and notes on its website that there is...
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Addiction Experts Battle Stigma Attached to Medication-Assisted Treatment

Addiction Experts Battle Stigma Attached to Medication-Assisted Treatment
Opioid addiction treatment experts say although the evidence is clear that medication-assisted treatment is the best way to tackle the nation’s opioid epidemic, there is still a stigma attached to using these medications. Only a small percentage of the more than 4 million people who abuse prescription painkillers or heroin in the United States use one of these medications, methadone or buprenorphine, NPR reports. These treatments have been proven to reduce relapses and overdoses, the article notes. While limited availability of these treatments is an issue, stigma around the use of addiction medications also prevents some people from using them, experts say. Because methadone and buprenorphine are opioids, a widespread view among people in recovery is that using these medications is simply replacing one drug with another. They say true recovery requires abstinence—without the use of medication. This view is strongly disputed by doctors and scientists. The Obama Administration is trying...
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Cigna and Addiction Specialists Team Up to Study Which Treatments are Working

Cigna and Addiction Specialists Team Up to Study Which Treatments are Working
The health insurance company Cigna is teaming up with the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) to study which substance abuse treatments are effective, Forbes reports. The company will provide two years of medical claims data to ASAM, who will work with health researchers at Brandeis University to test and validate which treatments are working. All patient names have been removed to ensure confidentiality. The results could be used to develop guidelines for Cigna and other health insurers to establish protocols for doctors and other mental health providers, the article notes.“When it comes to substance abuse, there are not clear guidelines,” said Dr. William Lopez, Cigna’s Senior Medical Director for Behavioral Health. “Our position is that we want to individualize the treatments and by having some guidelines that are more holistic, we will attain that goal. We want to move from volume to value.” He explained researchers hope that analyzing medical...
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Shortage of Addiction Treatment Personnel Intensifies as Opioid Crisis Worsens

Shortage of Addiction Treatment Personnel Intensifies as Opioid Crisis Worsens
Addiction treatment centers are struggling to find enough qualified personnel as the opioid crisis worsens, The Wall Street Journal reports. Retention of addiction treatment workers has long been an issue because of low pay, high burnout rate and the stigma attached to addiction, the article notes. Many counselors move on to other fields after several years. There are many reasons the demand for addiction treatment workers—including psychiatrists, licensed counselors and house aides—is increasing. The number of patients addicted to heroin and prescription painkillers is on the rise. The Affordable Care Act requires private insurance companies and Medicaid to cover substance use disorders, and states that have expanded Medicaid under the law have made coverage available to many new patients. In addition, a growing number of localities are steering drug offenders to treatment instead of prison. “Our biggest problem right now is a lack of workforce,” said Becky Vaughn, Vice President of...
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