The damage of the opioid crisis and how it's being addressed

Massachusetts has been hit hard by the national opioid crisis with the ninth highest rate of opioid deaths in 2017, according to the CDC.  The opioid crisis has killed over 2,000 people in Massachusetts each year for the past three years on record, peaking in 2016. As a result, Massachusetts organizations like Greater Lawrence Family Health Center (GLFHC) are looking at innovative ways to help those struggling with addiction.

Opioid crisis in the news

Recently, Tufts University announced their decision to remove the Sackler name from its graduate biomedical sciences school, medical education building, and from within medical school programs last month. The Sackler family founded Purdue Pharma, which is known for introducing OxyContin to the market in 1996. OxyContin quickly became a key contributor to the opioid epidemic as the company heavily promoted the drug. “It is clear that the Sackler name, with its link to the current health crisis, runs counter to the school’s mission,” Monaco and Tufts’ chairman Peter Dolan wrote in a message to the school’s community.

Opioid addiction, income, and education 

A study published earlier this month by medical journal PLOS One found that people of a lower socioeconomic status are more likely to die of an opioid overdose. Those who live at or below the federal poverty line make up 31% of opioid overdose victims. Education level is also a factor. Of overdose victims 24% have no high school diploma and 35% have no college degree. Conversely, those with master’s degrees accounted for only 3% of deaths. 

GLFHC’s initiative to treat opioid addiction

The Suboxone Evaluation and Induction project at GLFHC provides assistance with withdrawal symptom management, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), and HIV and HCV screenings to addicted individuals. Over the course of a year, 89 patients were admitted and received a consult. Of those, 73% agreed to start MAT and 82% of those patients were still on treatment after three months. In addition, GLFHC tracked the percentage of these patients with IVDU, positive HepC status or HIV status, and concurrent tobacco or alcohol use: 69% of patients had IVDU, 70% were positive for HepC, and 71% used tobaccos as well as opiates. They also made efforts to educate clinicians on the appropriate treatment of those with substance abuse disorders to reduce stigma and increase understanding. You can read GLFHC’s full report of the project here.

For further reading, check out today's post on our broker blog AllWays Insider about how employers can take action to reduce the stigma of opioid addiction and help affected employees.

Back to Blog