Dr Frank James Discusses Responses to the Opioid Epidemic

How the president classifies the opioid epidemic matter doesn't matter as much as attention to it and dedication to responding it, said Frank James, MD, JD, of American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Transcript (slightly modified)
The president has declined to declare the opioid epidemic in the country a national emergency, instead calling it a public health emergency. What is the difference in response efforts to the epidemic?
I think that it doesn’t really matter what we call it because calling it something isn’t going to solve the problem. It’s really a matter of now we know it’s a problem, people are dying of it every day, and that we have to address it. So, it’s more important what we do about it, how we approach treatments, how we measure outcomes, how we ensure that people are getting the right care at the right time—regardless of what we want to call it.

How is the way the healthcare industry is responding to the opioid epidemic changing as the situation continues to grow?
The industry’s realizing that addiction medicine is a specialty and that opiate addiction is a chronic disease. We can’t treat that as we treated other addictions—it’s a disease in of itself.
So, recognizing that first, now the industry can then look at what’s the research, what’s the data, what are the outcomes we want to achieve in treating opiate addiction. Then we look at the research to see what is the evidence based treatment that we need to bring to our members, to our patients, and to the industry to make sure that people are getting the right treatment, at the right time, and at the right place; that’s evidence based, that’s based on data and research.
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