Federal government, ADA advocate policies to curb opioid epidemic

  • ADA News
Drug agency notes surge in overdose deaths during pandemic
The Biden-Harris Administration’s Statement of Drug Policy Priorities was released April 1, outlining the federal government’s first-year approach to ending the opioid epidemic.

The priorities are closely aligned with the ADA’s goals related to curbing opioid use.

In the next year, according to the federal government’s statement, the Office of National Drug Control Policy will work across the government to implement the following seven priorities:
•       Expanding access to evidence-based treatment.
•       Advancing racial equity in the approach to drug policy.
•       Enhancing evidence-based harm reduction efforts.
•       Supporting evidence-based prevention efforts to reduce youth substance use.
•       Reducing the supply of illicit substances.
•       Advancing recovery-ready workplaces and expanding the addiction workforce.
•       Expanding access to recovery support services.

Brooke Fukuoka, D.M.D., a member of the ADA Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention’s prevention subcommittee, said that she sees value in this plan, which recognizes the connection between mental health and substance misuse, and mentioned her support for efforts to increase school-based mental health screenings.
 
“School-based mental health screenings and access to evidence-based treatment options are important to help decrease the prevalence of substance misuse disorders,” she said. “The co-occurrence of mental health disorders and substance misuse disorders is not simply coincidental. Mental health, like dental health, is part of overall health. Early detection, risk-based care and prevention are also important in mental health. While unmet needs in dental health can lead to infection, pain and tooth loss, unmet needs in mental health can lead to self-harm, harm to others, and substance misuse.”
 
Regina M. LaBelle, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said in a news release that the implementation of its priorities will complement both President Biden’s efforts and the implementation of the American Rescue Plan, which includes an investment of nearly $4 billion in behavioral health services.

“These actions are critical at a moment when the latest provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 88,000 people died of an overdose in the 12-month period ending in August 2020, a 26.8% increase, year-over-year,” Ms. LaBelle said. “Similarly, overdose rates are also increasing in certain communities of color, underscoring historic racial inequities.”

“This issue is a bridge across party lines, across our communities and across geographic divides — and the common factor is our humanity,” said Ms. LaBelle.

In 2018, the ADA House of Delegates adopted a policy supporting mandatory continuing education to prevent opioid abuse. It positioned the Association as the first major health professional group to support statutory restrictions on clinical practice to help curb opioid abuse.

The policy supports mandatory continuing education in substance use disorders and controlled substance prescribing, with an emphasis on preventing drug overdoses, chemical dependency and diversion.

The policy also supports limiting opioid prescriptions to no more than seven days for the initial treatment of acute pain, consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention evidence-based guidelines.

ADA.org contains educational, ready-to-use resources on the opioid crisis for dentists on how they can help the Association’s commitment to ending the scourge of opioid abuse.
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