Medical leaders and practitioners attend LI-CAN’s Medication-Assisted Treatment conference to fight opioid addiction.
Long Island CAN made major strides this month in its campaign to get life-saving medical care for the thousands of opioid users on Long Island, whose addiction exposes them to increasingly lethal synthetic opioids.
More than 100 medical leaders and practitioners attended LI-CAN’s March 17th conference on medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction. MAT is the medical standard of care for opioid addiction, but most opioid users don’t receive it. Instead the prevailing approach is abstinence-based treatment which, for 90% of clients, leads to a relapse within 3 months of discharge from treatment.
LI-CAN is working to remove the barriers to MAT in the medical profession, the criminal justice system, insurer practices, and the treatment system. Three breakthrough wins were announced or achieved at the conference:
- The region’s two largest hospital chains will begin providing MAT to opioid users in their emergency departments (EDs). LI-CAN asked the chains to change their ED protocols in 2017 after hearing story after story of opioid users overdosing fatally after being discharged quickly from EDs when they survived previous overdoses. “We asked them to stop missing these opportunities to interrupt the deadly progression of this disease,” said LI-CAN Co-chairperson Rev. Gideon Pollach. “We brought them a proposal based on a Yale study showing you can save lives by starting MAT in the emergency room, instead of just discharging these patients with a referral to treatment. Now that the two biggest chains have said yes, we will work to make this the standard approach to handling opioid overdoses in the ED.”
- 30 doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants received training needed to receive a federal waiver to prescribe buprenorphine, a highly effective MAT drug. These new prescribers will help alleviate the shortage of practitioners offering the drug on Long Island.
- A group of veteran MAT practitioners launched a groundbreaking MAT Learning Collaborative to provide ongoing peer support, education and clinical mentorships for fellow practitioners. “A learning collaborative is one cornerstone to a functioning MAT infrastructure on Long Island,” said Dr. Leslie Marino, an addiction psychiatrist who has served as LI-CAN’s medical advisor.
Building on these successes, LI-CAN will now expand its work to root out the stigma and bias against MAT throughout the criminal justice system.