SOCIOLOGY AND PUBLIC HEALTH
Opioid addiction has reached daily media attention over recent years primarily connected to death and overdose rates. An article from the Huffington Post reports opioid deaths reached a total of 52,404 in 2015 and are expected to exceed 60,000 for 2016. The Center for Disease Control has issued numerous publications regarding overdose deaths and has reviewed issues ranging from opioid painkiller prescribing guidelines to fentanyl-related overdoses.
One of the fundamental goals in confronting the opioid epidemic is the concept of chronic disease management and the use of the healthcare system to support this model of care. Acute-care philosophy, often involving Minnesota Model rehab and abstinence approaches to treatment has been insufficient to address the mortality and harm connected with the current epidemic. The CDC has also been firm on its stance of support for Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). Examples of MAT approaches include Buprenorphine maintenance, Naltrexone injections, and Methadone programs.
The Huffington Post article raises another interesting parallel in this fight is the same as that of HIV and AIDS management in the early 1990s. At that time, much of the publicity and attention was on the lethality of AIDS and safe practices to avoid contracting HIV. Through scientific approaches and embracing a chronic disease model, HIV has reached the status of being a manageable chronic disease without necessary lethality. The medications used for HIV treatment are much better tolerated by people to allow for continuous care.
Our hope is that clinical practices to confront the opioid epidemic will become so standard and effective that ideologic approaches such as pure-abstinence paths will be deemed far beneath the standard of medical care. Although not a requirement for stabilization, some medication options are discussed with an emphasis on overall life change made possible through stabilization.
Read more CeDAR Education Articles about Sociology and Public Health including Treatment Search and Barriers.