A Tale of Two Epidemics: COVID-19 and the Opioid Crisis
The United States is currently dealing with 2 deadly, concurrent epidemics: COVID-19 and the opioid crisis. Both need viable solutions. The better we are equipped to address one, the more effective we can be at treating the other. Counterintuitively, now is actually the best time to get waivered. It’s imperative that we do so for 3 reasons:
1. Relaxed waiver process given COVID19: Launching free zoom waiver training
The traditional process of getting a DEA-X waiver involves either completing an online course or an in-person course. Both have their pros and cons. While convenient, the online course is less engaging. The in-person course is engaging, but more of a hassle to schedule and attend. Prompted by the unprecedented needs of COVID-19, Get Waivered, in collaboration with ED Bridge and ACEP, has organized the first nationwide Zoom Waiver training. A national DEA-X waiver training accrediting body (PCSS) has authorized this new approach and we are now able to provide this unique opportunity to offer free waiver training through the Zoom platform for this limited time. The Zoom training will provide the same continuous feel of the in-person course just from the comfort of your own living room.
2. COVID limits treatment options: We are all they have
Patients living with opioid use disorder have long struggled to find the care they need. But during COVID-19, patients are experiencing significant additional challenges. Many addiction clinics and office-based treatment programs have closed to adhere to social distancing guidelines and treatment facilities and halfway houses have been forced to reduce the number of new patients they are able to accept. For the foreseeable future, it is likely that patients with opioid addiction will default to the ED in search of treatment. Anecdotally, many EDs are seeing higher rates of presentations of patients with opioid use disorder because they have limited options. While the ED has been a central locus of care for this population in the past, it has never been more evident than now that these patients need us.
3. COVID19 exacerbates the drivers of addiction: Anxiety and isolation
Isolation measures are having a particularly severe impact on patients with addiction. Prolonged periods of isolation such as those created by COVID-19 can lead to elevated levels of stress and anxiety. These are often the genesis of addiction. In this time it’s important for us to have tools to treat these patients in an evidence-based approach as they come in.
Lastly, if we can improve access to care for evidence-based treatment for patients with OUD that keeps them out of withdrawal and out of the ED, we can ensure that they are able to remain at home, decompressing the ED, supporting successful self-isolation, and reducing patients’ exposure to COVID19. In this time of social distancing, we have an opportunity to come together virtually like never before for a good cause and for patients that desperately need us.
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Disclosure: ALiEM is a proud collaborator with the Get Waivered team.
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