How Referrals Can Help in the Opioid Crisis

Megan Boss
Written by Megan Boss

At a time when we are all experiencing a health pandemic at epic proportions, many Americans are also suffering another epidemic: opioid addiction. 

The opioid crisis is a complex public health issue that creates significant societal costs as well as devastation for families across the nation. International Overdose Awareness Day occurs each year on August 31 and aims to spread awareness of this global issue.

Deaths involving drug overdoses of opioids (including prescription methadone), other synthetic opioids, and heroin rose from 18,515 in 2007 to 47,600 deaths in 2017. From 1999 to 2017, more than 700,000 Americans have died from drug overdoses, a number that tripled since 1990.

How did this happen? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 80% of people who use heroin started off misusing prescription drugs. The American Medical Association (AMA) is working with states to help remove existing barriers for patients with pain to obtain necessary medications. This includes removing arbitrary dose as well as quantity and refill restrictions on controlled substances.

 

The Pandemic's Effect

During the Coronavirus pandemic, more than 40 states have reported increases in opioid-related deaths as well as ongoing concerns for those with mental illness or substance use disorder. 

The AMA urges state legislators and governors to take action. States must enact, implement, and support harm reduction strategies, which includes removing barriers to sterile needle and syringe service programs. Appropriate referrals for substance abuse can also help combat the opioid crisis.

 

The Importance of Referrals

An effective referral network unifies local health and social care ecosystems, creating seamless experiences for both health care providers and people in need of substance abuse counseling and or interventions. 

From screening to navigating community resource directories to identifying the appropriate drug and mental illness providers, the Activate CareHub™ offers an end-to-end solution to begin to change the national opioid crisis trajectory and improve health outcomes in your community. 

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Topics: Opioids, Blog, Referrals