Is there an easy solution to America’s deadly painkiller addiction epidemic? Probably not. But we certainly support anyone that’s willing to offer ideas. Case in point: Barbara Andraka-Christou, author of The Opioid Fix. Andraka-Christou happens to be a professor of health management and informatics at the University of Central Florida and shared some thoughts from her new book with the NPR news site.
In an exclusive interview, NPR writer Carrie Feibel discussed the basis of the book and how Andraka-Christou feels the opioid crisis can be handled during 2020. Though quarantining and scary COVID-19 headlines have been known to fuel dependencies, Barbara feels that there may be some “silver linings” within the pandemic to help steer things in a positive direction.
“On the treatment side, the tools are already there,” she explained when discussing solutions for opioid dependencies during COVID-19. “We actually know what works. It’s really well established. And there actually are some silver linings to the pandemic, as federal and state officials have temporarily relaxed some of the strict regulations governing the medical treatment of opioid addiction.”
Andraka-Christou went on to say how prevention is where the true root of this epidemic lies. In her opinion, limiting the over prescriptions of opioids is only part of the solution. Yes that helps, but other experiences (beyond the need for painkiller assistance) play into a person’s tendency to form an addiction; such has childhood traumas and genetic predispositions.
Andraka-Christou also discussed the role lawmakers can play in curbing the crisis. The criminalization of these types of addictions has very detrimental effects, she explained, as well as the stigmas tagged on to medications aimed to help recovering opioid addicts (such as methadone and buprenoprhine).
“There is basic intellectual confusion over the fact that buprenorphine and methadone are opioids, although of a very different kind [than heroin and addictive opioid painkillers],” she added. “As one judge told me: ‘Why would we just give a whiskey bottle to an alcoholic?’ But the focus shouldn’t be on the fact that buprenorphine is an opioid. The focus needs to be on the fact that someone taking it is able to function and they’re able to function better.”
A good portion of The Opioid Fix delves into these types of stigmas and how a lack of recovery knowledge from people in power can hurt the country as a whole. Truth be told, there are a lot of detailed factors that the book breaks out, which has led Fix to become a hot commodity on Amazon. If you have time for some extra summer reading, we definitely recommend checking it out.