Once The Coronavirus Pandemic Subsides, The Opioid Epidemic Will Rage

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Proposed regulatory changes and advocacy efforts aimed at loosening restrictions on addiction treatment are well-intentioned and could help decrease the number of overdose deaths while raising the national standard of care in addiction medicine. However, federal legislative action is typically slow, ignoring the urgency of the opioid crisis many US communities face. And the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has put almost every other fact of life on the back burner for most Americans.

People with substance use disorder already face many obstacles to treatment. However, public health precautions such as social distancing and self-quarantine—necessary measures, by all accounts, to contain the spread of COVID-19—are more than inconveniences to a person struggling with addiction. They are risk factors for relapse that can impede access to highly regulated but critical medications such as methadone and buprenorphine.

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