By James Alexander
For the first time in the collective history of American medicine, national healthcare insurers and qualified third-party providers are making progress towards coming together and agreeing to identify, promote, and cover evidence-based diagnosis for a variety of addiction treatments, including Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).
Holistic Hope is a national nonprofit organization that is dedicated to reducing the personal, relational, and community devastation that addiction causes. The disease of addiction and the opioid epidemic has long been a public health crisis in the United States. In the last year alone, over 18 million Americans were diagnosed with a substance use disorder, with another 1.8 million addicted to opioids. The number of deaths caused by drug–related overdoses has tripled in the last 16 years, while the number of deaths attributed to opioids grew by 26 percent between 2016 and 2017. Drug–related overdoses are the #1 cause of death among Americans aged 50 years or less, and these same statistics show that overdoses are the #1 cause of unintentional death in America. This rise in drug–related deaths has contributed to the overall decline in U.S. life expectancy for two years in a row— the first occurrence was in the 1960s. Independent estimates by experts and analysts have concluded that efforts to prevent opioid overdoses and various substance disorders would save the United States over $96 billion per year.
Holistic Hope’s goal is to eradicate addiction entirely.
Extensive research and the resulting conclusions demonstrate that addiction is not merely a failure of morals, but rather a diagnosable disease caused by environmental, biological, and additional factors. The research has shown that SUDs can be treated and that relapses can be prevented, with recurrence rates on par with chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, and hypertension. Despite this mountain of evidence, currently 1 in 10 Americans suffering from substance use disorder receive clinical treatment. For patients who do receive care, treatment is often delivered without the evidence‐based medical practices that are shown to actually improve the outcome of the patient.
The substance use disorder treatment industry is held back by outdated concepts that are based on rigid ideas about SUD treatment. Moral standings, rather than evidenced-based procedures backed up by the science that states these steps, will improve patient outcomes. The current payment protocols only reinforce these outdated ideas and slow the adoption of evidence-based best practices, placing the benchmark for success on areas other than patient outcome.
The list of addiction treatment options that have the potential to save thousands of lives each year only continues to grow. Holistic Hope is dedicated to saving lives by transforming this broken system into one that serves people suffering from the disease of addiction. By allocating capital and investing in evidence-based treatment strategies, we can trigger change throughout the entire nation. Holistic Hope is engaging funders, policymakers, stakeholders, payers, and providers to advocate for the implementation of evidence‐based policies that are critical to patient outcomes. We want to ensure that the disease of addiction is approached like any other treatable and preventable disease afflicting people today.
Steps to Tomorrow
#1: Regular screenings
Screenings for Substance Abuse Disorder should be as common as measuring weight, blood pressure, and pulse.
#2: A custom plan for every patient
One size certainly does not fit all. Treatment must account for a patient’s unique biological, social, mental, and environmental needs.
#3: Easy access to treatment
Brain chemistry is altered by addiction, so when a victim of SUD decides to seek treatment, there must be no obstacles between them and this precious moment because it may not occur again.
#4: Manage the disease
Depending on the severity of the disease, inpatient treatment may not always appropriate for SUD patients. Outpatient care in the long-term is a crucial factor in patient recovery.
#5: Coordinate Care
Many victims of addiction suffer from additional conditions such as mental and sometimes physical disorders. Coordinating treatment for these illnesses should be integrated into the over substance use disorder treatment plan.
#6: Behavioral-based treatment
Behavioral interventions from legitimate providers can help patients manage SUD and sustain long-term recovery. Providers must be accredited, properly trained, and well-supervised.
#7: Supervised medication
As with any other chronic illness or disease, medication will likely come into play. Medication options for patients must be under a layer of supervision to prevent relapsing.
#8: 360-degree recovery support
Long-term recovery requires both emotional and practical support options, including continued support from peer groups, family members, and the community.
At Holistic Hope, we believe that victims of the disease of addiction can succeed with only a few support steps. We have identified several “success indicators” that we rely on to indicate how well an area or region is doing. A few includes:
- The number of individuals that are reached with our educational content. This can include direct mail services, family programs, workplace programs, media placement, outreach events, ad impressions, website visitors, and more.
- The number of policies advocating for OUD, SUD, and other illnesses that are advanced on a local, state, and federal level.
- Adecrease in the lives lost causedby addiction, abuse, or overdose.
In the end, the greatest victory for Holistic Hope would be to see the entire treatment and care landscape shift and change as a result of the work our team is putting in advocating for people suffering from these diseases.
We hope that people are unaffected by these diseases form compassion and understanding, which will help reduce stigmas and create a network for people who know where to send those who may need to seek out addiction treatment. If your everyday person understands the various components of what high-quality treatment and care look like, they are empowered to demand it for a stranger, a friend, or a loved one.
We believe that this kind of transformation of public opinion and coming together will raise the overall quality of the entire treatment and care system. Leading to overhauled treatment programs, care providers, and a remarkable rise in the expectations of which policies our lawmakers choose to enact.
For more information visit holistichopenp.org