As the nation’s opioid-related mortality toll continues to increase, unacceptable gaps remain for those needing treatment for an opioid use disorder and those able to access it. There also are increasing problems for patients with pain to maintain care as new opioid restriction policies are being applied to, in many cases, indiscriminately limit — or deny — therapy. At the same time, the policymaking apparatus in state legislatures (and by pharmacies, health insurance companies and pharmacy benefit management companies) continues to focus predominately on nearly all areas other than treatment. This is not because of any ill intent, but mandates and restrictions are much easier to enact and implement than meaningful policy to increase access to care.
The American Medical Association and the nation’s state and specialty medical societies have cautioned that if policymakers’ focus continues in this manner, the epidemic will worsen. Policymakers must focus on increasing access to high-quality, evidence-based care for substance use disorders (SUDs), as well as help enhance access to comprehensive, multi-disciplinary pain care, including non-opioid alternatives. Simultaneously, physicians must show leadership to advocate strongly for these policies, but they must also take other actions. Specifically, physicians must be willing to treat an increased number of patients with SUDs. And physicians must continue to educate themselves on effective treatments for pain — beginning in medical school and continuing throughout one’s professional career.
This session is accredited for the following accreditation types: CME, CNE, CPE, APA, AAFP, AAHCPAD*, NAADAC*, ASWB,* GA Bar.
*State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit.