Publication date: Jun 08, 2019
Surgeon General Jerome Adams told a Chicago conference Friday that shame over opioid addiction and treatment is a major reason why the lethal epidemic continues to rage.
The conference, put on by the Center for Compulsive Behavior and Addiction at Rush University Medical Center, was aimed at addressing Chicago’s opioid crisis.
Adams said stigma also inhibits the spread of the -gold standard” of opioid addiction treatment – medications like methadone and buprenorphine that stem the craving for heroin or pain pills because they, too, are opioids.
A member of the audience suggested that requirement – which does not exist for doctors who want to prescribe opioid pain pills – also contributes to stigma, as though the treatment were as dangerous as the addiction.
Adams disagreed, saying doctors already receive too little education on opioids.
Kathryn Perticone, clinical director of Rush’s substance use intervention team, told the Tribune she frequently encounters the stigma against medication-assisted treatment, both from people with opioid use disorder and their families.
She said she tries to point out that the symptoms of the disorder – using opioids uncontrollably despite negative consequences – can be prevented with buprenorphine or methadone, just as insulin prevents the symptoms of type 1 diabetes.
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