Center City, MN. (June 21, 2016) - The Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy commends new steps taken by the American Medical Association to help combat the national opioid crisis, and encourages continued action in the year ahead.
At its annual meeting held this month in Chicago, the AMA adopted a number of positions to help end America's prescription opioid and heroin epidemic, which claims an estimated 80 lives a day due to overdose and has left millions battling dangerous opioid use disorders.
"The opioid crisis is hitting every part of America," said Nick Motu, vice president of the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy. "Insight and support from the nation's largest association of doctors and medical students is not only appreciated, but much needed."
"The medical community is essential to not only ending the current overdose epidemic but beginning to address the broader health problem of addiction," Motu added.
Among the approved policies and recommendations by the AMA's House of Delegates: disconnect patient satisfaction scores related to pain from government health plan payments; remove pain as a vital sign in professional standards; add the overdose reversal drug naloxone to preferred drug lists; encourage that naloxone be co-prescribed with opioids to patients at risk; encourage naloxone standing order prescription agreements with pharmacies; approve liability protection for those who prescribe naloxone; and remove barriers to the use of non-opioid pain therapies, including non-pharmacological options.
"Many of these steps mirror the policy priorities we outlined at the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy, and represent strong steps forward," Motu said.
While applauding the actions as well as others taken previously by the AMA, the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy encouraged the AMA to take further steps to strengthen PDMP utilization; adopt more opioid prescription guidelines similar to those put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); provide physicians with more education and guidance on non-opioid pain management therapies; add standard substance use disorder curriculum into the continuum of medical student education and physician training; and support the need for robust community-based recovery supports.
"As we gain more insight into the programs and resources that assist Americans in overcoming substance use disorders, having the support of a professional membership organization such as the AMA is crucial to a paradigm shift toward more integrated, continuum-based care," said Motu.
"We need the AMA's help in making the case that all medical professionals need education on addiction at the foundational level of medical school," Motu added. "Addiction is a widespread, mainstream illness, and we need all of medicine involved. Doctors can play a big role in preventing this disease as well as identifying it, getting people the specialty care they may need, and directing them to the appropriate support resources in the community."
The Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy will continue to support the AMA's efforts to educate and inform its members and represented institutions, and will provide any support possible to further strengthen its policies.
About the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy
Our mission is to provide a leading national voice on all issues related to addiction prevention, treatment and recovery and to facilitate conversation among those in recovery, those still suffering and society at large. We are committed to smashing stigma, shaping public policy and educating people everywhere about the problems of addiction and the promise of recovery. The Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy is part of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the nation's largest nonprofit treatment provider. With a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center, the Foundation has 16 sites in California, Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado and Texas. Learn more at www.HBFinstitute.org and on Twitter @hazldnbettyford.