Addiction is Public Enemy #1
The “economic burden” of substance use in the US is now over $ 1 Trillion, which includes the cost of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice.
More Americans die from addiction than car accidents, guns, and HIV/AIDS combined.
The addiction crisis is worse than ever!
Overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in the US. According to the CDC, there were over 100,000 fatal overdoses in the U.S. during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, from April 2020 to April 2021. That’s the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a twelve-month period and now has become the leading cause of death for those between 18-45 years old in the US.
Synthetic opioids like fentanyl account for more than half of overdose deaths, but there was also a 46% increase in overdose deaths from other stimulants, like methamphetamines, and a 38% increase in deaths from cocaine overdoses.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, substance use disorder (SUD) has worsened
And it’s not just overdoses taking lives: In 2018, more than 175,000 deaths in the U.S. were related to alcohol and other drugs. This makes substance use the third largest cause of death in the nation.
Effective addiction treatment is hard to get!
Only 1 in 10 people who need treatment ever receive it, and even fewer receive quality care that is rooted in scientific evidence. Medications are one of the most effective treatments for substance use disorder (SUD), yet many cannot afford or access them.
Less than half of residential treatment facilities don’t offer addiction medication and only 1% offer all three types of medications.
Even though addiction is an illness, treatment has long existed outside of mainstream medicine. In a survey of physicians and nurse practitioners, only one in four said they’d received addiction training during medical education.
Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) formerly referred to as Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Medications used are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and MAT programs are clinically driven and tailored to meet each patient’s needs.
Research shows that a combination of medication and behavioral therapy can successfully treat these disorders, and for some people struggling with addiction, MAT can help sustain recovery. MAT is also used to prevent or reduce opioid overdose
FDA has approved several different medications to treat alcohol and opioid use disorders MAT/MOUD medications relieve the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body. Medications used for MAT are evidence-based treatment options and do not just substitute one drug for another.
Acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone are the most common medications used to treat alcohol use disorder. They do not provide a cure for the disorder, but are most effective in people who participate in a MAT program. Learn more about the impact of alcohol misuse.
Buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone are used to treat opioid use disorders to short-acting opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine, as well as semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone. These MAT medications are safe to use for months, years, or even a lifetime. As with any medication, consult your doctor before discontinuing use.
Naloxone is used to prevent opioid overdose by reversing the toxic effects of the overdose. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), naloxone is one of a number of medications considered essential to a functioning health care system.
It’s important to remember that if medications are allowed to be kept at home, they must be locked in a safe place away from children. Methadone in its liquid form is colored and is sometimes mistaken for a soft drink. Children who take medications used in MAT may overdose and die.