Addressing the Opioid Crisis

How Prescription Painkillers & Heroin Have Changed Treatment & Recovery

Drug overdose is the number one cause of accidental death in the U.S., and opioids are involved in more than 75 percent of these deaths. Now that the crisis of opioid addiction in the U.S. has been recognized in the news media and by government agencies, the question becomes what is the best way to treat Opioid Use Disorder.

In this webinar, three experts in the field of opioid addiction treatment describe the COR-12 approach now in place and being refined by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. "COR-12" stands for Comprehensive Opioid Response with the Twelve Steps Considering MAT (medication assisted treatment).

Dr. Eileen Burchby, staff physician at Hazelden in Plymouth, Minnesota, reveals that the gold standard of care is currently understood to include longitudinal medications with treatment groups and close monitoring. However, barriers to effective treatment abound both externally from lack of resources and support for medication-assisted treatment and internally from ambivalent patients themselves due to the severity of withdrawal for those in recovery.

Cathy Stone, supervisor of the day treatment program at Hazelden in St. Paul, Minnesota, describes the challenges and opportunities in working with young heroin addicts, detailing Hazelden Betty Ford's philosophy of support and encouragement with treatment.

Sarah Nowak describes how the mental health team at Hazelden Betty Ford supports the COR-12 treatment team for those with opioid addiction, including those with co-occurring mental health conditions.

Access the on-demand recording of Addressing the Opioid Crisis webinar.

Key Takeaways:

  • Opioid abusers cost eight times more for healthcare compared to non-opioid users
  • Of those with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) in the U.S., the CDC estimates that 496,000 are using heroin while 2.1 million are using prescription drugs
  • Withdrawal from opioids does not provide the “pink cloud” experience of those coming off of other drugs; instead it is described as having the worst flu you’ve ever had in the short term with protracted post-acute cravings for 3-6 months
  • Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) can be helpful because it allows those with OUD to more easily endure the short-term and long-term effects of withdrawal and have increased likelihood of remaining in treatment
  • Two medications used in MAT for opioid dependence are Vivitrol and Suboxone
  • Pregnant women who are dependent on heroin or prescription opioids can safely use MAT
  • The goal for Hazelden Betty Ford is always the discontinuation of medication as patients become established in long-term recovery
  • MAT is only part of a comprehensive strategy for treating Opioid Use Disorder
  • An essential part of the clinical philosophy in treating young heroin addicts involves creating a culture of non-judgment and empathetic inquiry while offering unconditional positive regard for the patient
  • Studies of patients with Opioid Use Disorder show higher rates of co-occurring mental health disorders and suicides than in the general population
  • Risk of suicide for those in OUD treatment with co-occurring mental health disorders increases during a taper

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