To the editor:
As a clinical nurse specialist with certification in cardiovascular disease, I have worked with many patients with severe pain issues. Before I retired in 2016, I worked at UVA Health System on enhancing safe-medication practices institutionally. I know that medication-assisted therapy is the most effective method, in conjunction with counseling and social resources, to help persons with substance use disorder achieve abstinence.
This has been supported through evidence-based research and is considered a standard of care. Indeed, failure to provide medication to assist with withdrawal from opioids and maintain abstinence is considered a denial of appropriate care per The Institute for Healthcare Improvement). In a consensus report in March, IHI states patients are less likely to die and achieve better outcomes with long term retention therapy using FDA approved medications. They further note that most people who could benefit from the therapy do not receive it and use of medication-assisted therapy is inequitably provided across subgroups.
Since moving to Henry County, I have kept up with the Drug Free Martinsville/Henry County Coalition and attended some of their meetings. I know they are well informed of these best practices and support the use of evidence-based care. I believe the article in the Bulletin on May 26 erroneously indicated the coalition believes “using medications to manage opioid use has very poor success rates.” As noted in the article, the coalition is working to “enlighten the community, arming officials with information.” It is important it be accurately shared.